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Spring home improvement projects planned? A seasonal reminder: Call 811 before you dig


(Update: Adding Oregon Utility Notification Center release, diagram)

KENNEWICK, Wash. (KTVZ) -- I’ve dug here before … I’m sure it’s OK. Don’t trust your memory! Get fresh underground utility locates for every digging project, Cascade Natural Gas advises.

In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Cascade Natural Gas wants to bring awareness to a simple process that will keep people safe, reduce service disruptions and have those planning to dig follow the law.

The main cause of underground utilities being damaged by someone digging is not notifying the 811call center to have utilities located. Awareness of 811 is high among professionals, but they still fail to contact 811 before they dig.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs at the expense of the homeowner when natural gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, laying a patio and pounding stakes are some examples of digging projects that require contacting 811 before starting.

While most homeowners know the importance of 811, many active diggers believe they are not digging deep enough to warrant having lines marked or believe their project is not in an area that needs to be marked. Homeowners are encouraged to be aware as depths of utility lines vary, and multiple lines may be in a common area. Even if you have dug in an area previously, erosion, settling ground and other factors can change the depth and location of utilities over time. Stop excavating immediately if you find unmarked utility lines and call 811 to have them marked.

Cascade is committed to keeping homeowners safe by reducing damages to underground natural gas lines through education and awareness. As part of National Safe Digging Month, homeowners are encouraged to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always contact 811 a few days before digging, regardless of depth or familiarity of the property. Every dig. Every time.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don’t allow work to begin until an 811 locate ticket has been completed. 
  • Confirm that all utilities listed on your 811 locate ticket request have been marked or cleared – in any area you plan to dig – before digging.
  • Contact the utility listed on the locate ticket if they have not responded by the due date listed on your ticket.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near marked utility lines.
  • Carefully hand dig within two feet of the marked lines and visually determine the exact location of the utility line before proceeding if your dig project is next to a marked line.
  • Do NOT build structures (sheds, shops, decks, etc.) over utility lines, as this restricts access to the utility lines and can result in a dangerous situation. 
  • Remember that damaging a utility line is dangerous and can result in expensive repair bills.
  • Visit for complete info.

Everyone who contacts 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags, or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, you can carefully begin digging around the marked areas.

Contact 811: It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law. Every dig. Every time.

Cascade Natural Gas is a natural gas distribution company serving approximately 314,500 residential, commercial, industrial and transportation customers in 95 communities in Washington and Oregon. Cascade is a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc., a member of the S&P MidCap 400 index that provides essential products and services through its regulated energy delivery and construction services businesses. For more information about MDU Resources, visit For more information about Cascade, visit


Oregonians Urged to Avoid Digging Into Trouble With New Statewide Proclamation
Oregon Utility Notification Center - 04/03/24

On average, it happens 3.85 times every single day in Oregon – homeowners and professional excavators damage underground utilities while digging on their property or jobsite. In some cases, the results can be catastrophic. Joining the national observance during the month of April, Governor Tina Kotek has signed a proclamation designating National Safe Digging Month in Oregon.

The statewide proclamation underscores the importance of requesting underground utility locates through Oregon’s free notification system, available by calling 811 or going to at least two business days before digging. Requests can be made anytime and on any day for no cost.

“We say ‘safety is in your hands,’ because everyone has the responsibility to prevent service interruptions, costly repairs, environmental damage, injuries, and worse,” said Josh Thomas, Executive Director of the Oregon Utility Notification Center. “Contacting 811 first helps avoid having to contact 911 later.”

The timing of National Safe Digging Month unofficially marks the start of “dig season” – the most active months of the year for excavation projects. According to the Oregon Utility Notification Center, there were 342,061 requests in 2023, prompting 1,869,969 utility locates in Oregon. In the most recent damage report, there were 1,405 reported incidents, continuing a downward five-year trend statewide. 

Common Ground Alliance reports that more than half of U.S. homeowners plan to dig without requesting utility locates. This is mostly attributable to lack of awareness and shallow digging projects. The estimated annual cost of damages to underground utilities nationally is $30 billion.

As an acknowledgement of the National Safe Digging Month observance, and in support of the 811 notification system, this proclamation is supported by the Oregon Utility Notification Center, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, and Oregon Public Utility Commission.

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In 1995, the Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) to establish a statewide notification system to reduce damages to underground facilities and to promote public safety related to excavation issues (ORS 757.547). The free service ensures that operators of underground facilities are notified of proposed excavation so the utilities can be located and marked in advance. For more information about the OUNC or the statewide notification system, go to

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities. The PUC also regulates landline telephone providers and select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregonians have access to safe, reliable, and fairly priced utility services that advance state policy and promote the public interest. For more information about the PUC, visit

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules, and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to

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