Spring is here, and homeowners across the state are grabbing their shovels and excavators and getting to work planting trees and tackling other landscaping projects before the scorching heat of summer. First though, it is important and required by law to know what’s below before they dig.
April marks the 13th annual Safe Digging Month, an initiative that was created to remind homeowners to call 811 or visit Arizona811.com to make sure they dig in an area free from underground lines to avoid unintended consequences – such as serious injury or costly damage to underground utilities.
The process is simple. Contact Arizona 811 from anywhere in the state at least two full working days prior to digging by visiting Arizona811.com or calling 811. Callers will be connected with an Arizona 811 Locate Specialist who will collect information about the type of digging being done and location of the planned dig site. Arizona 811 then will notify the appropriate local utility companies who will then send someone out to mark the underground lines, pipes and cables at the dig site to identify what’s below – and ensure homeowners will be able to dig safely. Homeowners will not need to interact with workers.
“We want to get the word out about how important it is to know what’s below before you dig,” said Jeff Spohn, Director of Electrical Operations at APS. “Every year, we see too many cases of unintended consequences when 811 is not called to locate underground lines before any digging starts. This can lead to service interruptions or environmental damage or, even worse, personal injury or fatality.”
The 811 service, which is funded by nearly 600 member utilities (including APS), is a free service to homeowners. It also is required by law to call 811 before digging – and for good reason since there are more than 100,000 miles of buried lines in Arizona alone. Without having the dig site properly marked with paint and flags, homeowners run the risk of accidentally striking a water, internet, electric or gas line -- not only risking their life and the lives of others, but also disrupting vital services to an entire community.
“We make the process quick and easy,” said Sandra Holmes, Executive Director at Arizona 811. “By calling just two working days before any digging, no matter how large or how small the digging project may be, you can help prevent injuries, property damage and harm to underground utilities, as well as inconvenient outages to services we all rely upon every day.”
In the United States, specific utility lines have uniform color codes for temporary markings, which is what the public sees after the 811 Locate Specialist comes out to the property. The color codes for utilities are as follow:
Red – electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
Orange – communication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit
Yellow – natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or gaseous materials
Green – sewers and drain lines
Blue – potable water
Purple – reclaimed water
Pink – temporary survey markings
White – proposed excavation
“A phone call or online request is all it takes to get the process started, and working in conjunction with local utilities, we take care of the rest,” said Holmes.
The 811 service was designated by the Federal Communications Commission in 2005 as a simple phone number for homeowners to request utility line locations to be marked at a dig site, ensuring safe digging. Learn more at arizona811.com.
APS serves more than 1.3 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is a leader in delivering affordable, clean and reliable energy in the Southwest. The company is committed to serving customers with 100 percent clean power by 2050. As owner and operator of Palo Verde Generating Station, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free electricity, and with one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, APS’ current energy mix is 50 percent clean. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).
About Arizona 811
In 1974, Arizona 811 was established and known as “Arizona Blue Stake.” It is a call center providing notification services to underground facility owners and operators to be notified when anyone is planning to dig so they could mark their facilities in advance, in accordance with Arizona Revised Statute 40-360.21-32, also referred to as Arizona’s “Call Before You Dig” law.
In 2014, “Arizona Blue Stake” officially changed its name to Arizona 811. Today, Arizona 811 works with professional excavators and homeowners throughout Arizona to facilitate pre-excavation notification services from its communication center in Tempe, Ariz. For more information on Arizona 811, go to arizona811.com.