Posted on August 10, 2017

PG&E Urges Public, Contractors to Help Prevent Damage to Underground Utilities

By Jody Fox

In honor of National Safe Digging Day on Friday (Aug. 11), PG&E is asking all Californians to help prevent damage to gas pipelines and other underground utilities.

With a free call to 811 or submission on at least two working days ahead of any digging projects, homeowners, renters and contractors can ensure their outdoor project is safe to start.

National Safe Digging Day is observed across the nation each year to recognize the importance of calling 811 or using before digging. Following the call or online submission, 811 will dispatch a PG&E team member to the site to mark underground pipes at no charge.

Whether an outdoor home build or large construction, the public is reminded to call 811 or submit a request to before any digging project. (Currents Archive Photo.)

Reaching out to 811 has never been easier. The service is available via phone or web 24 hours a day and takes just four minutes to complete. The service is also adding seven bilingual customer service representatives this year, providing improved language access.

“It’s high-summer in Northern California, and many of us are doing yard improvement projects, gardening and other outdoor activities. If we work together, we can ensure that these activities take place safely and without damage to our homes and neighborhoods. Reaching out to 811 is the single easiest and safest way for us to prevent costly and potentially dangerous damage to underground pipelines,” said Jesus Soto, PG&E’s senior vice president of Gas Operations.

“Getting utility lines marked isn’t optional — it’s the law in California. Senate Bill 661, otherwise known as the Dig Safe Act of 2016, requires contractors and homeowners to notify Underground Service Alert (USA) before digging. Calling 811 or using are two free and simple ways to get underground utility lines located and marked before a project. Damaging utility lines can result in repair costs, property damage, service disruptions, personal injury or even death. Choose safety and contact USA before you dig,” said James Wingate, executive director, USA North 811.

“We all must work together to keep our families and communities safe. PG&E has been a leader driving gas safety awareness and all of our data shows that there’s still more important work to do. Whether you’re a homeowner or the worker with the shovel, that critical free call to 811 must never be overlooked. Our collective safety depends on it,” said Sarah Magruder Lyle, executive director, Common Ground Alliance.

PG&E safe-digging tips 

  • Mark project area in white: Identify the digging location by drawing a box around the area using white paint, white stakes, white flags, white chalk or even white baking flour.
  • Call 811 or go online for a USA ticket two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. PG&E and other utilities will identify underground facilities in the area for free.
  • Dig safely: Use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of underground lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until the project is finished. Backfill and compact the soil.
  • Be aware of signs of a natural gas leak: Smell for a “rotten egg” odor, listen for hissing, whistling or roaring sounds and look for dirt spraying into the air, bubbling in a pond or creek and dead/dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

For more information about 811 and safe digging practices, visit

Email Currents at

Comments are closed.

"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
© 2017 Pacific Gas and Electric Company. All rights reserved.