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Spring is here, and so is the beginning of gardening season and backyard projects. CALL BEFORE YOU DIG! Please, it is actually federal law to call 811 at least two business days before digging. Digging a new flower bed or garden – Call 811. Even if it is just a small flower bed? How about installing a post-call 811. Is it any different if you hire a landscaper or contractor? No – call 811.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities. What gets damaged? Natural gas pipelines. Electric lines. Phone, internet, and other communication cables. Water lines. Sewer lines. This can result in service disruptions to your own home or business, and your neighbors, as well as serious injuries and costly repairs.

You may not know, but according to data collected by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Every time you dig, follow these steps:

  1. Notify – call 811.

  2. Wait – utilities will do the marking in 2-3 days.

  3. Confirm – that all of the affected utility operators have responded to your request by comparing the marks to the list of utilities the one-call center notified. If they are, dig safely. If not, call again.

  4. Respect the marks – State laws generally prohibit the use of mechanized equipment within 18-24 inches of a marked utility, which is called the “tolerance zone” (click here for information from your state).

  5. Dig Safely – Avoid digging near the marks (within 18-24 inches on all sides, depending on state law), or consider moving your project to another part of your yard.

Each state or province in our region has its own convenient number for its location service:


Oregon law created a statewide, one-call service – (800) 332-2344 or simply 811. For more information, you can also visit online


In Washington, you can call (800) 424-5555 or 811. For additional online information, visit


In Idaho, there is a Digline service which you can reach at (800) 342-1585 or 811, with a Digline website


British Columbia has its own easy-to-use “BC 1 Call” service at (800) 474-6886 or visit the website at

Finally, once the utilities have been to your home or business and marked any underground utility lines – RESPECT THE MARKS. Don’t dig within 12-inches of the markings. Also, below is a handy chart for understanding what the different colored markings identify:

Making a call to 811 is the easiest way to keep you and your neighbors safe!!!


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