Man Digging a hole with shovel

Dig it? Call 811 to Prevent 911

Spring is a popular time to plant trees, build a deck, and undertake other home and garden improvement projects that may involve digging.

To make sure your project does not cause you and your neighbors any headaches, be sure to call 811 to first check for buried utility lines. April is designated as “California Safe Digging Month to encourage homeowners and contractors to call 811 before starting any project involving digging to avoid damage to underground utilities.

Utility lines – electric, natural gas, and fiber optic – are often buried only a few inches underground, making them easy to strike, even for shallow excavation projects.

Work as simple as installing a mailbox, or fence post or adding landscaping could damage an underground gas or electric line.

If you inadvertently hit a utility line, it’s not just you who will suffer. Your entire community could be greatly inconvenienced as well, because ruptured underground utilities cause a whole host of headaches. Think service outages. Think flashing traffic lights. Think evacuations due to gas leaks caused by a natural gas line break. Think fire and police showing up to cordon off streets.

It’s the Law

In California, everyone is required by law – whether you are a contractor or ordinary citizen – to call the free 811 service to get underground utilities marked out before performing any excavations.

Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $50,000, and you could be held liable for costs related to repair of damaged underground equipment.

Underground Service Alert of Southern California – popularly known as DigAlert – provides free utility marking services, helping to reduce the number of accidents causing property damage, personal injury, and interruption of vital services.

Tips to Avoid Trouble

Contractors and homeowners should call 811, or submit a request at, at least two business days prior to digging. We will then mark the location of buried gas lines free of charge. It typically takes only 24-48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines.

Please take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked. 
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit for complete info.

If you suspect a natural gas pipeline has been damaged or you detect a gas leak call SDG&E immediately at (800) 411-7343.