San Diego Gas & Electric promotes undergrounding service on 811 day

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In observance of National 811 Day, which is designed to bring awareness to safe digging practices, San Diego Gas & Electric Tuesday reminded homeowners and professional excavators to utilize the free 811 service before starting any construction projects to prevent injuries and reduce the potential for costly repairs.

With the pandemic giving rise to more gardening activities and yard projects in the region, SDG&E is working to spread awareness about the free undergrounding utility marking service to reduce the number of gas or electric line strikes from unsafe digging.

The Underground Service Alert system is responsible for relaying important information surrounding the planned dig site with appropriate utility companies. After a request is received and processed, professional utility technicians will then either mark underground infrastructure or provide notification if there are no underground lines.

Underground utilities — including natural gas pipelines, underground electric lines, telephone cables and water lines — are located everywhere throughout the San Diego region, including under streets, sidewalks and private property, sometimes just inches below the surface.

“Whether you are a contractor or a DIYer just starting a project in your backyard, calling 811 should always be the first step,” said David Buczkowski, SDG&E’s vice president of gas distribution. “We all have a responsibility to do the right thing and protect our communities from the dangers of unsafe digging.”

So far this year, there have been around 150 local gas emergencies due to unsafe digging, according to SDG&E.

Hitting a gas or electric line can result in a serious safety hazard, fires, property damage, loss of utility service, costly repairs and fines. Gas or electric strikes disrupt daily lives and cause a wide range of inconveniences to the public — from service outages for an entire neighborhood to closed streets. Such incidents also take up precious police and fire response resources.

Nationwide, every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged due to those digging without first contacting 811, according to the Common Ground Alliance, a national association dedicated to preventing damage to underground facilities.

Unsafe digging from construction and landscaping activities resulted in almost 350 local gas emergencies last year.

SDG&E recommends the following steps:

— submit a request to have underground utility lines marked by calling 811, visiting or downloading the 811 app on your phone; and

— make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them.

No damage to gas or electric lines is too small to report. Even a small scrape or dent to a pipeline or underground electrical cable may cause a dangerous break or hazard in the future. If a customer or contractor causes what seems to be only minor damage to their gas or electric service lines or meters, they should call SDG&E immediately at 800-411-7343.

Categories: Local San Diego News