Call Virginia 811 Before Digging and Avoid Damaging Underground Utilities

Friday, August 09, 2013
News Release

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

Call Virginia 811 Before Digging and Avoid Damaging Underground Utilities


The month of August historically is the time of year when the most damages to underground natural gas pipelines happen. With Aug. 11 almost here, Columbia Gas of Virginia hopes this date on the calendar, 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for homeowners, contractors and professional excavators to always call 811 at least three days prior to any digging or demolition project and have all underground utility lines marked. This service is provided at no charge by the utility and it is Virginia law.

”By calling 811, homeowners help to protect themselves, their neighbors, utility workers and emergency responders, which is our #1 goal,” said Mike Huwar, vice president and general manager operations for Columbia Gas of Virginia. “By sharing the responsibility of protecting underground utilities you allow Columbia Gas, and other utilities, the opportunity to locate our underground facilities before someone excavates.”

When calling 811, the person performing the digging will be connected to va811 (former Miss Utility) the Virginia one-call center, which notifies all appropriate utility owners of their intent to dig or demolish. Professional locators are then dispatched, at no cost to the person requesting the utility locate, 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 demolition 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 va811 before starting.

By Virginia law, each utility will locate their underground utilities and clearly mark their facilities using the universal color code. The colors are:

Red – Electric; Orange – Communications, Telephone/CATV; Blue – Potable Water; Green – Sewer/Drainage; Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line; Purple – Reclaimed Water and White – Premark site of intended excavation

Follow these four steps to protect yourself and underground utilities or log on to for more information.

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.
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.
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
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.