Call Before You Dig Is Good Advice for Residents
Underground Utilities Pose Risk
Last updated 4/5/2023 at 5:04pm
With warmer temperatures and April kicking off the best time of year to plant, spring means more people are heading outdoors to upgrade their landscaping, install a fence and overall improve their home's curb appeal. Given that it's the most active season for home beautification projects, Sunshine 811 encourages homeowners and professional contractors to dig safely, especially as landscaping and fencing combined cause the most damage to underground utility lines – resulting in costly repairs, service interruptions and even injuries.
"Contacting 811 before you dig is the law, and nationwide the majority of damage occurs from not contacting 811. It's all about ensuring public safety and preventing damage to the underground infrastructure," said Mark Sweet, Sunshine 811's executive director. "When you contact 811, we alert our member utilities of your project so they can identify and mark or clear their lines, and your digging project can proceed safely."
811 can be accessed by dialing those numbers directly on your phone or by visiting sunshine811.com and clicking on "Create a Ticket." Sunshine 811 is also Florida's go-to resource for education on safe digging. The organization's online Learning Center offers in-depth information, resources and videos on a variety of topics, including safe planting tips, damage prevention and more. Sunshine 811 encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these six fundamental steps for safe digging:
• Plan your project. Think about the scope and if you'll need to hire a contractor. If digging in a small area of the dig site, outline that area with white paint, flags or even flour.
• Contact 811. You'll receive a ticket number and list of utilities that will be notified of your project. Remember that utility companies do not mark private lines.
• Wait the required time. After you submit a ticket, member utility operators have two full business days to clear or mark the approximate location of underground utility lines on your property before you can begin digging.
• Confirm utility responses. Follow the progress of each member utility by viewing the utility response codes they use to explain your dig site.
• Confirm the marks. Ensure that all member utility companies have responded to your ticket. Compare the colors of the marks and flags on your property to the list of member utility companies on your ticket.
• Dig with care. After the buried utility lines on your property have been marked or cleared, it's time to start digging.
According to Florida law, there is a tolerance zone that runs 24 inches from each facility's outside edges. If you're digging within the tolerance zone, use increased precautions to protect the underground utility lines. Also, keep an eye out for roots and stumps that could be entangled with utility lines. If you damage a utility line, contact the utility company immediately and do not attempt to fix it.
For more information about safe digging and the 811 process, visit sunshine811.com.