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PG&E reminds customers to always call 811 before digging


SAN FRANCISCO – April is National Safe Digging Month, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers to call 811 before starting any excavation project, large or small.


Natural gas pipelines, electric power lines and other utilities buried underground can lie within just a few feet of the surface.


Whether planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system or building a fence, homeowners and professional excavators need to know where gas and electric lines lie underground to prevent injuries, property damage and outages.


Once every three minutes nationwide, a utility line is damaged by digging. Many of these incidents could have been prevented with a call to 811, a free service that provides important information on where utilities exist beneath excavation areas.


Calling 811 puts customers in direct contact with Underground Service Alert (USA), which notifies local utility companies to mark the approximate location of their underground facilities in and around the excavation site, helping customers and contractors avoid them.


California law requires anyone doing excavation work to notify utilities at least two working days before digging. Requests will be accepted as early as 14 days in advance of an excavation.Once a request is received, the customer or contractor will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area.


PG&E offers these tips for a safe excavation:


If you believe a utility may not have marked their lines, call 811 again to notify.


On paved surfaces, mark the proposed excavation area with white chalk-based paint. Homeowners can also use other white substances such as sugar or flour.


On unpaved surfaces use flags or stakes to mark the proposed excavation area.


Carefully hand excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility.


Be careful not to erase facility marks while working. If you cannot see the markings, call 811 and request a remarking.


Calling before you dig can not only save you money from a damage claim, it can also save your life. For more information on Underground Service Alert, visit the following Web sites:

  • USA North - Serving Central/Northern California and Nevada.
  • USA South - Serving Santa Barbara, Ventura, Inyo, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties.
  • 811 - Learn all about 811 and safe digging.


The 811 requests are active for 28 days. Immediately notify utilities about any type of contact or damage to its wires or pipes. If there is any type of damage to electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps:


Move to a safe location.

Call 911.

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