What Does Safe Digging Mean to Me?

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DPC of TExas


What Does Safe Digging Mean to Me?

April has been designated as National Safe Digging Month. As a homeowner, you may be wondering what this means for you. According to the Common Ground Alliance, in 2019, 42% of homeowners planned to do some sort of digging around their property putting themselves and their community at risk by not calling 811 a few days before they start their planned project. But what does that mean? How does calling 811 benefit you, the homeowner? With millions of miles of buried utilities across the United States, calling 811 before digging saves lives. Each state has their own law governing the use of 811, but the message is still the same across state lines. Call Before You Dig. It’s as simple as picking up your phone and dialing 811.

Let’s walk through the process. You have decided to do some landscaping around your house, including trees and a new sprinkler system. Today is Thursday and you want to start your project tomorrow, Friday. But wait, 811 law requires you to call at least 48 hours before the start of a project, so what now? Once you determine the start date of your digging project, you submit a locate request in one of two ways:

Call 811, listen to the recorded message and provide any info requested. You will then be routed to a Damage Prevention Agent who will complete your request.

Submit a request online at www.texas811.org

When you call 811, make sure you have the following information available to complete your request:

  1. Nature of Work – tree planting, sprinkler system installation, building a fence, putting a mailbox?
  2. Location of Work – provide your address, cross streets and/or GPS coordinates
  3. Information about you – your name, your phone number, your company name (if applicable)

Let’s dig a little deeper into these three areas to ensure you have all the information needed for an accurate locate request.

Nature of Work
When you call a one call center (811), you will be asked a series of questions about the nature of your work.

  1. Who is the work being done for? As a homeowner, the work is being done for YOU.
  2. How long will the work take? Is this a weekend project?
  3. Will you be using explosives? Odd question for homeowners, but this question is one required by law.
  4. Will you be digging deeper than 16”? Why are homeowners asked this question? If you are digging post holes for a new fence, you are most likely digging at least 24” and most underground facilities are buried just inches under the ground so calling 811 for any dig project is highly encouraged.
  5. Has the work area been marked with white paint or flags (white lining)?
  6. What kind of work is being done? Are you building or repairing a fence, installing a new mailbox or planting a new tree?
  7. You will also be asked to provide your full name, mailing address and a phone number. If you are not the primary contact for the work, you will need to provide that information as well.

You’ve provided all this information, now what? Texas811 will provide you with your locate request (ticket) number. You will also receive an email notification with a list of companies with utilities in your area.

You’ve completed the first step in the process of digging on your property. What happens next? Well, you must wait the 48 hours required by law (not including weekends and holidays) for locators to locate the utilities buried under your property or dig site. Once you receive the all clear, you can start digging, keeping tolerance zones in mind.

Know what’s below, call 811 before you dig. It’s a free call that saves lives.

- Jennifer Pratt

Program Manager, DPC of Texas