Digging safety

  • Contact 811 before performing any excavation work
  • 811 will coordinate with member utilities to mark any underground utility lines in the area
  • Respect the marks when you excavate or dig

Accidentally digging into underground utility lines of any type can cause safety issues and inconvenience those who will be impacted by a service interruption. Kentucky and Virginia laws require excavators, including homeowners to contact operators of underground utilities before performing any excavation work.

This includes activities such as planting a bush or tree, putting up a mailbox post, or installing a fence. It doesn't matter how large or small your project is. You’re still required to have underground utility lines marked before you dig.

Contact 811 before you dig

There are just a few simple steps to follow to be safe.

  1. Once you have your outdoor project planned, call 8-1-1 or visit Kentucky 811 or Virginia 811 to submit a locate request. You must submit your request at least two full business days before any excavation work can begin. This will ensure sufficient time for operators of underground facilities to mark their lines to protect excavators and the general public and preserve the reliability of any underground facilities. When you submit your request, 811 will issue a "locate request" to member utilities, including those who provide natural gas, electric, telephone, cable and/or water service.
  2. Wait for a ‘positive response’ after a locate request is made. Operators of underground utilities will provide a positive response regarding each locate request in the form of flags or markings around your excavation area or verification through a phone call, email, mail, fax or online portal notification. They will also let you know if there are no underground lines in the area. This work is performed at no cost to you.
  3. Once you have confirmed a positive response, you can begin to dig with care. Don’t assume a pipeline or cable runs straight between marks – and that’s why we have a ‘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.
diagram of hand dig areas for Kentucky

Private lines

Some underground lines – private lines – are not marked by 811 services. Examples of these private lines are electric or water lines to a pool, lines to septic tanks, electric lines to sheds, gas lines to a grill, or landscape lighting, lawn sprinkler systems, invisible pet fences, etc. Basically, if the utility is installed from the meter to another location on your property, it will not be marked. It is your responsibility to contact a private locating company to mark private lines.

Information for gas customers

Because you receive natural gas service, you likely have underground natural gas lines at your place of residence or business. Damage to natural gas lines from excavation work can lead to explosion or fire and can cause property damage, serious injuries or death.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (KPSC) investigates instances of excavation damage to underground natural gas pipelines to determine whether the pipeline was properly located prior to excavation.

Under changes to the Underground Facility Damage Prevention Act of 1992 (the “Act”), which took effect on July 14, 2018, the KPSC has the authority to levy fines for failing to comply with the requirements of the Kentucky statute related to protection of underground utilities.

Key requirements of the Act (KRS 367.4901 to KRS 367.4917) include:

  • Excavators, including property owners working on their own property, must contact Kentucky 811 (call 8-1-1 or submit a locate request online at Kentucky811.org) at least two working days prior to the start of excavation. IF YOU FAIL TO CONTACT 811 AND THEN DAMAGE A NATURAL GAS LINE, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO A PENALTY.
  • The requirement to contact Kentucky 811 applies to all work on private property if it occurs within a utility easement or uses mechanized equipment.
  • Natural gas operators must mark the facilities within two working days of receiving the request.
  • Penalties for violating the statute are up to $1,250 for the first violation, $2,000 for a second violation, and $4,000 for subsequent violations.

Remember to contact 811 before you dig.

If you are a KU customer

Kentucky Utilities is a member utility in certain parts of its service territory. In areas where KU is not a member utility of the 811 service, customers need to contact KU directly to request an underground electric line locate service. KU will perform this service at no additional charge.

Select your county from the drop-down list below to find out if you need to contact KU in addition to Kentucky 811 to have your underground electric lines marked.