Utility Stresses Calling 811 Before Digging

In honor of National Safe Digging Day on Friday, August 11, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is asking all Californians to help prevent damage to gas pipelines and other underground utilities. With a free call to 811 or submission on 811express.com at least two working days ahead of any digging projects, homeowners, renters and contractors can ensure their outdoor project is safe to start.

National Safe Digging Day is observed across the nation each year to recognize the importance of calling 811 before digging. Following the call or online submission, 811 will dispatch a PG&E team member to the site to mark underground pipes at no charge.

Reaching out to 811 has never been easier. The service is available via phone or web 24 hours a day and takes just four minutes to complete. The service is also adding seven bilingual customer service representatives this year, providing improved language access.

“It’s high-summer in Northern California, and many of us are doing yard improvement projects, gardening and other outdoor activities,” said Jesus Soto, PG&E’s Senior Vice President of Gas Operations. If we work together, we can ensure that these activities take place safely and without damage to our homes and neighborhoods. Reaching out to 811 is the single easiest and safest way for us to prevent costly and potentially dangerous damage to underground pipelines.”

James Wingate, Executive Director, USA North 811, says calling 811 prior to digging isn’t just about safety; it’s also required by law.

“Getting utility lines marked isn’t optional – it’s the law in California,” said Wingate. “Senate Bill 661, otherwise known as the Dig Safe Act of 2016, requires contractors and homeowners to notify Underground Service Alert (USA) before digging. Calling 811 or using 811express.com are two free and simple ways to get underground utility lines located and marked before a project. Damaging utility lines can result in repair costs, property damage, service disruptions, personal injury or even death. Choose safety and contact USA before you dig.”

Safe-Digging Tips

  • Mark 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 baking flour.
  • Call 811 or go online for a USA ticket two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. Utilities will identify underground facilities in the area for free.
  • Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
  • Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

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