1. What is 811?

a. 811 is the phone number the public should call before digging to prevent potentially damage of underground utility lines.

2. What are the steps I should follow when planning my outdoor dig?

a. Notify the local call center by dialing 811 or making an online request 2-3 days before the work begins. You should check your state map to find out how far in advance you need to call.
b. Wait the necessary amount of time for affected utility operators to reply to your request.
c. Confirm that all utility operators have responded to your request and marked underground utilities.
d. Finally, dig around the marks with care. This simple process is going to prevent the numerous amounts of damage that happens every year. It is essential to respect the existing underground utility lines because they are essential for telecommunication, electricity distribution, natural gas, cable television, fiber optics, traffic lights, street lights, storm drains, water mains, and wastewater pipes. Damage to this infrastructure can be dangerous.

3. What if I want to plant a small garden bed in my backyard? Do I still have to call 811?

a. When your project is small, you must still contact 811 and let them know your intentions. However, with a smaller project, you can go to your local hardware store to purchase white marking paint or white marking flags to outline the area you will be digging. This way, when the utility locators come out to your property, they will only have to locate the critical infrastructures below this particular spot.

4. What is the maximum depth I can dig before I have to call 811?

a. Although there is no specific rule regarding the allotted depth of a project dig before calling 811, it IS important to note that ANY DIG requires a call to 811. This is not a suggestion; it is a requirement by law.

5. How deep are utility lines typically buried?

a. This depends entirely upon the laws and regulations set forth by each state and municipality due to soil conditions and other environmental factors. However, a general guide can be found below:

    • Electrical: Minimum of 24 inches deep
    • Gas: Minimum of 24 inches deep
    • Water: At least 12 inches deep, but may also be another 12 inches below the frost line
    • Cable: 12 inches deep
    • Phone: 12 inches deep
    • Low-Voltage Landscape Lights: 1 to 3 inches deep

6. What happens if I dig without calling 811?

a. If you decide to begin a project without first notifying 811, your state will likely impose a hefty fine to the individual conducting the activity, or an underground infrastructure could be damaged. Actions such as these could cause life-threatening injuries or a major outage that is vital to utility services.

7. Can I start digging as soon as the underground utilities are marked?

a. No, you have to wait 2 business days until you begin your project and confirm that ALL the utilities for your Jobsite have been marked by the appropriate utility locator.

8. What are the various colors associated with the different utility lines?

The utility industry recognizes several colors associated with underground utility lines. These are called the APWA color guide:

    • White: Proposed excavation
    • Pink: Survey markings
    • Red: Electric
    • Yellow: Gas, oil, steam
    • Orange: Communications, alarms
    • Blue: Potable water
    • Purple: Reclaimed water, irrigation
    • Green: Sewer

Calling 811 before you dig can and will save you and your underground infrastructures unnecessary headaches and fines. If you would like to find out where to buy the necessary safety marking products mentioned in this article visit us at www.presco.com or call us at 1-800-527-3295.