811 is the national call-before-you-dig number. Any time you plan to do any digging – as a professional excavator or an avid do-it-yourselfer – your first step should always be to call 811 so that any buried utility lines can be marked.
Here’s how it works:
- A free phone call to 811 will get things started.
- Once you provide your location and project description, the local one-call center will notify all the utility companies in your area of your intent to dig.
- Alabama state law requires that you must wait 48 hours after you call 811 to ensure enough time for the utility lines to be properly marked, so plan ahead.
- The utility companies will send their representatives to mark the approximate location of the underground lines with colored flags and/or temporary paint to denote the type of utility present.
- When digging, make sure to always dig around the marks, not on them. Hand digging is recommended within 18 inches of the marks. And, due to changes that are beyond their control, the utility companies cannot guarantee the actual depth of their lines. If you have any questions about the markings, do not hesitate to contact the utility company directly.
- Once the underground lines have been properly marked, you’re ready to begin your digging project!
- Knowing where underground utility lines are buried helps protect you from injury, expense and penalties. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area. Even simple digging projects can damage utility lines and can disrupt vital services to an entire neighborhood, harm diggers and potentially result in expensive fines and repair costs. Marked lines show diggers the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences.