Construction and landscaping activities resulted in more than 300 local natural gas line dig-ins and emergencies in 2020.
SAN DIEGO, August 11, 2021 – With construction and landscaping activities causing hundreds of natural gas line breaks and emergencies each year in the region, San Diego Gas & Electric is marking 811 Day by urging the public to call the free 811 DigAlert service to get underground utilities marked before digging.
Underground utilities, including natural gas pipelines, underground electric lines, telephone cables and water lines, are located everywhere, including under streets, sidewalks and private property, sometimes just inches below the surface.
“Not calling 811 before digging puts you, your neighbors, emergency responders and many others at risk,” said Patrick Kinsella, SDG&E’s director of gas operations. “Doing the right thing and getting underground lines marked ahead of your project not only helps prevent injuries but also property damage, fires, costly repairs and fines.”
Unsafe digging from construction and landscaping activities resulted in almost 330 local gas emergencies last year. This year, SDG&E has already responded to approximately 190 gas emergencies due to unsafe digging, compared to 177 this same time last year. These dig-ins have caused many inconveniences, from service outages for an entire neighborhood to closed streets. They also have taken up precious police and fire response resources.
Existing California law, which requires residents to contact 811 before digging, imposes fines up to $50,000 for failure to call. Violators could also be charged for repair costs of a damaged underground facility, depending on the extent of the damage.
Under Senate Bill 297 (SB 297) authored by California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, excavators and operators who fail to call 811 before digging and end up damaging underground gas pipelines could face a civil penalty of up to $100,000. The legislation, which recently passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee, is named after Wade Kilpatrick, a SoCalGas worker killed in July 2019 while repairing a damaged natural gas pipeline. Reports indicate a contractor failed to call 811, began digging at a Murrieta, CA home and damaged a gas pipeline.
Anyone can submit a request to have underground utility lines marked by calling 811, visiting DigAlert.org or using the 811-app. Requests should be submitted at least two business days before digging. SDG&E will then mark the location of buried gas and electric lines free of charge. It typically takes only 24-48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines.
Regardless of the depth of the digging or familiarity with the property, SDG&E urges the public to always contact 811 before initiating a project that involves extensive digging or shoveling. No damage to gas or electric lines is too small to report to SDG&E by calling (800) 411-7343. Even a small scrape or dent to a pipeline or underground electrical cable may cause a dangerous break or hazard in the future. For more information, please visit sdge.com/811.
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing its electricity from renewable sources, modernizing natural gas pipelines, accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra (NYSE: SRE). Visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.