OLYMPIA, Wash. – As Aug. 11 approaches, the Utilities and Transportation Commission reminds Washington residents and businesses to call 811 for a free utility locate prior to any digging project.
Anyone planning to dig into the ground—to install a fence or mailbox, build a deck, plant a tree, or start any other project below the surface—must call 811 at least two business days before the planned project start date.
2018 saw 2,834 reports of damages to underground utilities statewide caused by digging into utility lines. In the first 6 months of 2019, there were 1,169 dig-related damage reports.
Last year, UTC pipeline safety inspectors investigated more than 107 dig incidents and sent 480 warning letters. The commission issued more than $160,000 in penalties against excavators for violations of the dig law, many of which resulted in interruptions to essential water, telecommunications, natural gas, and electric services.
Damage can be prevented by following safe digging practices and making the call to 811. Last year, the service handled 534,550 utility locate requests.
When you call 811:
- You will be connected to the one-call notification center, which will ask you for information about your project and notify the appropriate utility companies.
- You will need to outline your dig site with white spray paint.
- Professional locators will be sent to your site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with spray paint or flags.
- You can also request a utility locate or check the status of your request online by visiting www.callbeforeyoudig.org.
The risk of damaging an underground utility line exists anytime you dig. Striking a utility line can cause injuries, damages, fines, and outages. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous landscaping, and uneven surfaces.
If you have called 811 and your utility locate is late, incomplete, or inaccurate, call the UTC Consumer Help Line at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or email email@example.com.
Visit www.utc.wa.gov/callbeforeyoudig for more information about 811 and the dig law process.