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From planting a rose bush to full-scale construction, unplanned digging projects can cause disruption, danger and even death. In addition to these serious safety issues, direct strikes create massive damage to utility lines each year. According to the Common Ground Alliance, the cost of these incidents has soared to $30 billion per year in the United States. Failing to notify before digging is the largest root cause of this damage and expense.

The solution is literally in your hands. Please call 811 before every digging project. 

To help raise awareness about the importance of safe digging, August 11 is observed as National 811 Day. Throughout the month you may notice an increase in mentions of 811 through media and social media. Please share this critical message: call 811 before you start any type of underground digging, no matter how small the job may seem. Your family, friends and neighbors – not to mention your local utility companies – will thank you.

More About 811

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. When you call 811 in our area, you are connected to your local One Call Center in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia. Member utilities, such as Washington Gas, are notified to mark the approximate locations of underground utility lines with high-visibility safety paint and/or flags. The service is free.

Everyone, including homeowners and construction companies, is required by law to call 811 before scheduling any type of digging. This includes general digging, gardening, landscaping, home improvements and/or major construction, excavation or demolition. If you are using mechanized equipment, you must call Miss Utility (811) before digging.

Call 811 at least two full business days – excluding weekends and holidays – before you dig.

More information for contractors: 
More information for homeowners:

Please do not dig until all lines are marked or confirmed as “no conflict.” If you are unsure if the underground utilities have been marked, check back with 811 to make certain there are no underground utilities in the digging area.

Washington Gas also offers free damage prevention training. Please contact the Washington Gas Damage Prevention Helpdesk at 703-750-4588 to schedule your free training.

Mind Those Marks

Each time you call 811, a representative will schedule a visit to your location to mark underground utilitylines with colored flags, stakes or paint. These colors are coded to tell you what type of utility lines might be crossing the area where you plan to dig.

  Red: electric utilities, such as cables and power lines (the most common color of flag)
  Yellow: petroleum, steam, gaseous
  Orange: communications (TV cables, signal lines, alarm lines)
  Blue: water, irrigation, slurry (potable drinking water)
  Purple: non-potable water
  Green: drains and sewers
  White: planned excavation
  Pink: temporary survey markings

Once you receive the confirmation email from 811, you can also access the Washington Gas Enhanced Positive Response system. Our online safety tool provides detailed information about your proposed digging site, such as photos, mapping and also a copy of the 811 ticket. We are proud to offer this industry-leading technology to help improve your safety as you complete your projects.

If you’re planning an individual project – such as planting a garden, installing a mailbox, etc. – please use only manual hand tools to dig within two feet to each side of marked locations. For larger-scale contractor excavations, please use extra caution. These markings highlight the underground utility locations but not specific digging areas. 

Quick Tips for Digging Success

Call 811 for every dig, every time. Make the call at least 48 hours before you plan to dig (two full business days). Verify that all underground utilities have been marked before you dig. Open a new ticket for each new excavation project. Confirm authorization before removing any abandoned lines. And above all, please treat your project with CARE:

Call before digging.
Allow marking time.
Respect the marks.
Excavate carefully.

Thank you for helping us raise 811 safety awareness. We wish you safety and success with your next digging project.

Additional resources
Common Ground Alliance 
Maryland Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Authority 
Miss Utility, District of Columbia: 800-257-7777 | 
Miss Utility, Maryland: 800-257-7777 | 
VA811, Virginia: 800-552-7001 |

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