The leading cause of gas damage emergencies in the country is due to individuals and contractors performing excavation work without a Miss Utility ticket. Miss Utility is the organization that coordinates the marking of utility lines to prevent them from being damaged by excavation or demolition work. Excavation includes digging, boring and directional drilling. Homeowners may not be aware that they need to call 811 each and every time they dig. Even if you’re adding a rosebush or mailbox, call before you install!

When it comes to preventing damage to underground utility lines, the area must be marked properly, and those marks must be respected so critical infrastructure is protected. The Call Before You Dig program is an important tool to stop construction crews and excavators from striking lines and disrupting service.

“We ask for the public to help us protect our infrastructure and avoid any disruption in your neighborhoods by calling 811 and telling your neighbors and friends to do the same every time you have a digging project,” said Blue Jenkins, president of Washington Gas.

How is Washington Gas enabling safer digging?

We have developed an Enhanced Positive Response (EPR) program that goes above and beyond locating and marking underground utilities for the customer. It provides the customer-detailed information, including photographs and mapping, specific to their project each time an 811 call is made.

The EPR can be accessed via a hyperlink when you receive your 811 locate confirmation email. In addition to the advanced EPR tool, Washington Gas also uses a computer-generated algorithm, as well as a process to rank the risk of each locate and mark request so we can prioritize our efforts, which all help us maintain a leadership role in damage prevention.

The markings consist of paint that is temporary, solvent and biodegradable and is either chalk- or water-based. While markings do not indicate exactly where the crews will be digging, it lets the crews know where all utilities are located underground. When excavating, it should be done within two feet on either side of the staked or marked location of an underground utility line.


Call 811 at least 48 hours before a planned dig

Assume the depth of a utility line
Excavate under someone else’s ticket
Remove an abandoned utility line without receiving proper authorization

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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