The lowdown on safe digging

March 22, 2024

April is Safe Digging Month, so if you’re planning on installing that new mailbox or planting new shrubs, there are a few things to keep in mind before the shovels go to work.

First, always be sure to contact 811 if you have a project that requires digging. It’s the law, and there is no charge for the service. Simply call 811 to request that utilities mark any underground lines (electric, water, cable, etc.) to your property. Otherwise, you risk hitting an underground line, causing potentially expensive damage, injuries or even death.

Second, wait for a ”positive response.” Operators of underground utilities will provide a positive response in the form of flags or markings around your excavation area or verification through a phone call, email or online portal notification. They will also let you know if there are no underground lines in the area.

Finally, dig with care. Once you have a confirmed positive response, you can dig with care and observe the ”tolerance zone” around the markings. The tolerance zone is the area equal to the width of the underground utility plus the area extending 24” on either side of the utility. If no width is given for the utility, assume 2”, and depths may vary. When excavation is necessary within the tolerance zone, hand-dig or use non-intrusive means to avoid damage to the underground line.

Private lines

It’s important to remember that some underground lines will NOT be marked by 811. Examples include private lines like water lines to a pool, electric lines to sheds and invisible pet fencing. Generally, utilities that run from the street to the meter will be marked. Utilities running from the meter to another location on the property will not be marked. In these cases, it’s the property owner’s responsibility to contact a private locating company.

Planting trees

Avoid interference with overhead power lines – now and in the future – when planting a tree by always choosing the right location, and tree, for your property. Visit our RIght Tree, Right Place page for more information.