With the spring months upon us, many people will take advantage of the warmer weather to do jobs around their homes that involve digging. Whether planting a tree or shrub, gardening or landscaping, repairing or replacing a damaged fence during the winter months, customers should call 811 two business days before digging. to prevent damage to underground power lines. To help raise awareness of the importance of calling 811, April is National Safe Digging Month.
Underground power lines can be shallow, sometimes only a few centimeters below the surface, due to erosion, previous digging projects, shifting or settling of soil, and uneven surfaces. And damaging an underground power line is dangerous and can leave customers liable for repair costs averaging $3,500 and more. Calling 811 is free and easy, and professional utility workers will respond within two business days to mark the location of underground utility lines for your project site.
“In the spring and summer, we see an increase in incidents where underground utility lines are damaged due to digging projects. Even if your digging project is small, calling 811 will help you dig safely and avoid costly repair costs,” said Joe Forline, senior vice president of gas operations for PG&E. “There is far too much risk in guessing where the utility lines are or how deep they may be. The safest game is to call 811 before you dig, and a crew member will come out to mark the location of your lines.
By the numbers
• In 2021, 811 was not called ahead in 89% of incidents when homeowners damaged an underground power line while digging
• The average cost to repair a damaged power line is $3,500
• Major causes of damage to underground power lines during digging include: building or replacing a fence, gardening and landscaping, planting a tree or removing a stump, construction sewer and irrigation and building a deck or patio.
Calling 811 is fast and free
• Customers should call 811 at least two business days before beginning any project involving digging, regardless of size. Customers can also visit 811express.com have underground utility lines marked for their project site.
• Professional utility workers for all utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer and telecommunications) will be dispatched to mark the location of all underground utility lines for the project site with flags, paint aerosol or both
• The 811 call center serving central and northern California, USA North, is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will provide Spanish and other translation services.
Tips for Safe Digging PG&E
• Mark the project area in white: Identify the digging location by drawing a box around the area using white paint, white stakes, white flags, white chalk, or even white flour.
• Call 811 or submit an online request at least two business days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, the start date of the project, and the type of excavation activity. PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in the area free of charge. Applications can be submitted a maximum of 14 days before the start of the project.
• Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground pipes. Leave flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is complete. Backfill and compact the soil.
• Be aware of the signs of a natural gas leak: Smell a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, hissing, or roaring, and look for dirt sprayed into the air, bubbling in a pond or stream, and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise wet area.