‘Dig-ins’ prompt PG&E to stress importance of calling 811

PG&E’s “Call 811” campaign to mark underground utility lines seems to be ubiquitous, but it still manages to fall on some deaf ears.In Los Altos, a contractor working at a home on Del Monte Avenue hit a half-inch copper pipe that provided gas service to the residence. The March 7 incident, often referred to as a “dig-in,” occurred at approximately 3 p.m., but it wasn’t reported until early the following morning.

“Cost hasn’t been determined in this case, but most dig-ins can result in an average cost of $7,500 to cover repairs,” said PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado. “Contractors are required by law to call 811 before starting any digging project.”

According to Tostado, the utility company usually sees a spike in dig-ins after storms, like the one on April 6, and the resultant power outages usually caused by downed trees.

“We know that many (homeowners) are already having a hard time because of the damage to their homes, and we want them to avoid another headache and, most importantly, keep them and the public safe,” Tostado said. “Whether it’s planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system or building a fence, customers need to know where underground utility lines are located. Natural gas pipelines, electric power lines and other utilities buried underground can lie within just a few feet of the surface. Accidental contact with these lines can be dangerous.”

Contacting 811 via phone or online at 811express.com puts customers in contact with Underground Service Alert (USA), a free utility notification service for anyone planning an excavation project. USA notifies local utility companies, which send a crew to mark the approximate location of the underground facilities in and around the excavation site.

Marking underground lines is not only the safe thing to do, Tostado said, it can save homeowners thousands in needless costs brought on by dig-ins.

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