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Posted on January 3, 2017

New Year, New 811 Rules: Call Before You Dig to Be Clearer with Stronger Enforcement

By Teresa Jimenez

Effective Jan. 1, contractors calling 811 to request utility markings before they do any excavation must wait two working days following the day of the call to start their project. The change, part of Senate Bill 661, clarifies California’s existing code regarding 811 Call Before You Dig, which helps protect public safety.

Violators are subject to costly fines and could have their projects delayed.

A senate bill that goes into effect in 2017 will clarify how long contractors must wait after requesting utility markings.

The senate bill, also known as the Dig Safe Act of 2016, amends language to remove confusion regarding the amount of time that must be allotted for markings to be made by a utility or Underground Service Alert (USA).

Other changes as a result of the senate bill will roll out slowly. An organization called the California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board will be established with assistance from the Office of the State Fire Marshal starting Jan. 1. But the board, charged with educating the public about 811 Call Before You Dig as required under existing law, won’t begin its duties until 2018.

The intent of the senate bill is to bring more awareness, understanding and enforcement of 811 Call Before You Dig, which is critical to keeping communities safe by preventing gas leaks and power outages.

A significant increase in construction around California has brought an increase in dig-ins to utility lines, and the best way to prevent these accidents is to call 811 and request markings that identify the location of the underground lines. It’s the law, and it’s free.

Not only is an 811 call an important step in protecting public safety, failing to do so can result in costly fines to the violator and delayed projects.

From January to November 2016, Sacramento’s 122 third party dig-ins was most in PG&E’s service area.  Oakland  was next with 88, followed by San Francisco (62), San Jose (52), Modesto and Fresno (49), Bakersfield (34), Berkeley (23), Stockton (22) and Santa Cruz (20).

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