Pick up the phone before the shovel

Pick up the phone before the shovel

Summer is here, and it's time to work on those outdoor summer projects. Before you reach for the shovel, remember to call 811, the national call-before-you-dig number to ensure that buried utility lines are marked.

811 infographic: every 6 seconds, a pipeline is damaged

Striking an underground line while digging can cause injuries, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and result in fines and repair costs.

A call must be placed to 811 before every digging project, from simple landscaping projects like planting trees or shrubs, to building a deck or installing a rural mailbox.

Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Don't become part of the statistic—make sure to call!

Here's what happens when you call 811:

  • Your call will be routed to your local One Call Center. That's Diggers Hotline in Wisconsin and JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) in Illinois.
  • Wisconsin requires the call to be made three business days before the start of the project, while Illinois law specifies two business days.
  • A representative will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
  • Utility companies servicing the area then will send a professional locator to the proposed area to mark any buried lines with flags: red for electric; yellow, gas or petroleum; orange, communications; blue or purple, water; and green, sewer or drainage.
  • Wait until your official project start date before beginning to dig to make sure all the utilities have been marked. If your planned work site is marked, don't dig in that area.
  • In Wisconsin, your project must begin within 10 days of your official start date. In Illinois, work must begin within 14 days of your locate request and is valid for 28 days.
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