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Press Release

Survey reveals 34.9 million Americans plan to dig without contacting 811 first, risking disruption to critical services

CGA calls on homeowners to contact 811 before beginning projects that require digging – including gardening, building a fence or installing a mailbox – to prevent damage to essential underground utilities and keep communities safe

  • 28 March 2022
  • Author: Sarah Daley
  • Number of views: 3492
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WASHINGTON (March 28, 2022) – In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Common Ground Alliance (CGA) – the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities – today announced results from a recent national survey revealing that nearly six-in-ten U.S. homeowners (58%) reported experiencing a utility service interruption during the last 12 months. In addition, 49% of U.S. homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and their communities at risk by digging without contacting 811 beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, inconvenient service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Making a free request to 811 online or over the phone before digging will help homeowners maintain essential utility service for themselves and neighbors and keep communities safe, by reducing the likelihood of accidentally digging into buried utility lines.

“Almost half of U.S. homeowners – nearly 34.9 million Americans – who are planning to dig on their property this year are also putting themselves at risk of utility service interruptions and personal injury by not contacting 811 at least a few days in advance,” said CGA president and CEO Sarah K. Magruder Lyle. “It is important that anyone who plans to put a shovel in the ground contacts 811 beforehand to have the approximate location of their buried utilities marked, so they can safely dig away from buried lines.”

The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in early March by CGA revealed that 58% of American homeowners personally plan to complete a home improvement project involving digging in the next 12 months – and unfortunately, 49% of them, or approximately 34.9 million Americans, will take a risk by not contacting 811 beforehand. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub: 80%
  • Building a fence: 25%
  • Building a deck or patio: 21%
  • Installing a mailbox: 11%
  • Installing a pool: 3%
  • Something else: 19%

“We are proud to support National Safe Digging Month as a way to bring awareness to Americans about how much infrastructure they rely on every day is buried underground, and to remind them to stay safe and keep their communities connected to critical utility services as they begin common digging projects this spring,” said Tristan Brown, Deputy Administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). “Contacting 811 a few days prior to digging to have the location of buried utilities marked is the first step in completing your project safely.” 

As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always contact 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Make a free 811 request on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked. 
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't marked.
  • Visit www.811beforeyoudig.com for complete information.

Everyone who contacts 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call 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, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

About CGA

CGA is a member-driven association of nearly 1,800 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has established itself as the preeminent source of damage prevention data and information in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information, visit CGA on the web at http://www.commongroundalliance.com.

About the study

SSRS conducted a national omnibus phone study between March 4-7, 2022, on behalf of CGA. A total of 1,003 Americans ages 18+ were asked about their homeowner status and opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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