August 11 (8/11) Serves as Convenient Reminder for Virginia Residents to Always Call 811 Before Digging

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Contact: Bob Innes
(804) 768-6410 office
(804) 512-1425 cellular

Chester, VA – Aug. 6, 2012 – With August 11 almost here, Columbia Gas of Virginia hopes this date on the calendar, 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for residents to always call 811 prior to any digging or demolishing project to have underground utility lines marked. The importance of always calling 811 has been recently highlighted in a report by the Common Ground Alliance which determined an underground utility line is damaged during digging projects every three minutes nationwide.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to va811 (Miss Utility of Virginia) the Virginia one-call center, which notifies all appropriate utility owners of their intent to dig or demolish. Professional locators are then dispatched to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.

Striking a single utility line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging or demolishing project, no matter how large or small, requires a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, demolishing an old shed, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to share the responsibility and always call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Mike Huwar, vice president and general manager of operations for Columbia Gas of Virginia. “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried on your property or in the area you plan to dig or demolish a building. Then you can proceed and dig with care.”    

Each utility will locate their underground utilities and clearly mark their facilities using the universal color code. The colors are:

By following these four simple steps before you dig or excavate you can share the responsibility of protecting yourself and underground utilities or log on to for more information.

STEP 1: Call 811 before you dig or demolish
a. Once you call, the member utilities are alerted that may have facilities in your proposed excavation area. There is no fee for this service.
STEP 2: Allow required time for marking
a. Wait 48 hours, beginning 7:00 a.m. the next working day following notice, to allow the utilities to mark their facilities.

STEP 3: Respect the marks
a. Protect and preserve the line-location markings from the time the excavation or demolition begins until they are no longer required for the proper and safe excavation near the utility lines
b. Request remarking at anytime the markings become illegible for any reason

STEP 4: Excavate carefully
a. Conduct a site survey before beginning your project. Look for clear evidence of unmarked utilities. Clear evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following:
i. Visual evidence of an unmarked utility line
ii. Knowledge of the presence of a utility line; or
iii. Faded marks from previous markings
b. If clear evidence of an unmarked utility line is identified, contact Miss Utility and notify them. Wait three hours from the time you notified Miss Utility before proceeding.
c. Once the underground utility is located, the law requires that the excavator take all reasonable steps to properly protect, support and backfill underground utility lines. Also, an excavator must not use mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Underground utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia, with headquarters in Chesterfield County, is one of 7 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI). Columbia Gas of Virginia serves nearly 250,000 customers in 86 communities throughout Virginia.