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Call Before You Dig

If you're planning any landscaping, gardening or other digging, add this to your chore list: Call before you dig. One call to a toll-free number 1-800-424-5555 gives local utilities like the PUD the chance to identify where their underground services are buried so you can dig safely.

Washington law requires all "excavators" to notify a utility locating service two working days before "any operation in which earth, rock or other material on or below the ground is moved or otherwise displaced by any means." The only exception is tilling soil for agricultural purposes.

"Any time you disturb the earth, you run the risk of accidentally digging into underground power lines, sewer and water mains, cable TV lines or other services," says PUD Engineering Assistant Mike Blumenstein. "When you want to get started on a project, it can be a nuisance to wait for two working days while utilities mark their services. But those two days can save your life."

How Does the Service Work?

Call 1-800-424-5555, or 811, two working days before you plan to begin your excavation work. The service is free and they will notify the PUD and other utilities as well. Each utility will send someone out to mark their buried lines. Each year we receive more than 1,300 service location requests, county-wide. The locating service will ask a few simple questions:

  • The location of the site where you plan to dig. A street address and specific directions help. So does marking the site with white spray paint; that way we know exactly where you will dig.
  • The type of work you plan.
  • The date you plan to begin.

If there are buried lines on the site, each utility will mark their services with spray paint (red for electric service, yellow for gas or oil, blue for water, green for sewer, and orange for telephone, telecommunications and cable TV).

Within two feet of the spray painted marks, take special care and dig by hand.

If you do your homework by calling before you dig, you can proceed with confidence. You won't endanger your life, and you won't incur the costs of accidentally digging into buried services. And that can be a lot - up to triple damages, according to Washington law.

Work safely this season. Remember to call before you dig.