LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Every six minutes an underground utility line in the country is damaged because someone did not call 811, the national "Call Before You Dig" phone number. On Aug. 11 - National 811 Day - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) reminds the public to dial 811 two working days prior to digging to identify the location of underground utility lines and to avoid striking them.
"Whether installing a mailbox, putting in a fence or sprinkler system, planting trees, building a new patio or deck or launching an outdoor business remodeling project, we urge the public to dial 811 several days before digging to ensure the site is properly marked," said Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and systems integrity for SoCalGas. "Knowing where underground utility lines are buried prevents injuries, unintentional damage, inconvenient outages and costly repairs."
When contacting 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to the local one-call center that notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Utility representatives are then sent to the requested digging site at no charge to mark the approximate location of underground lines with flags, color-coded paint or stakes. If they do not find any underground utility lines in the area, they will mark "clear." Once all lines are identified, customers should carefully use only hand-digging tools within two feet on each side of marked natural gas lines.
More than 100 billion feet of utility lines lay buried underground in communities throughout the United States - which equates to more than one football field's length of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the country, according to Common Ground Alliance, an organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines.
These utility lines provide amenities such as cable TV, high-speed Internet, landline telephone, electricity, natural gas and water. The depth of utility lines can vary due to years of erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces.
By California state law, anyone working on a project that requires digging into the ground must dial 811 two days in advance. Here are steps to protect you and your community:
- Regardless of the depth of the digging or familiarity with the property, always contact 811 before initiating a project that involves extensive shoveling.
- If you have hired a contractor, make sure the contractor called 811. Don't allow work to begin until you have confirmed utilities were notified and marked the area.
- Make sure to dig around the marked lines, not on them.
Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline or coating may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future. If a customer inadvertently causes minor damage to a natural gas line or an attached component, that customer should call SoCalGas immediately at 1-800-427-2200.
About Southern California Gas Co.
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 145 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.