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Press Release

Survey reveals 49.3 million Americans plan to dig without contacting 811 first, risking disruption to critical services

Always 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

  • 29 March 2023
  • Author: Kelly Cahill
  • Number of views: 2610
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Survey reveals 49.3 million Americans plan to dig without contacting 811 first, risking disruption to critical services

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2023) – 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 74% of U.S. homeowners plan to dig on their property this year. Of those who are planning projects, more than 49.3 million Americans will put themselves and their communities at risk by not contacting 811 before digging.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injury or death, inconvenient service disruptions, and costly fines and repairs. Hitting underground gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines while digging can have a major impact on communities and businesses. Instead, a few days before breaking ground, make a free request to have the approximate location of buried lines marked with flags or paint by calling 811 or visiting www.811beforeyoudig.com to find out where to make your request online.

“Whether you’re doing construction on your property or simply putting in a new mailbox, digging without contacting 811 can have serious consequences for your family and community,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This National Safe Digging Month, and every month, remember to always contact 811 before you dig.”

“Four in 10 U.S. homeowners who are planning to dig on their property this year will not contact 811 at least a few days in advance. That’s more than 49 million Americans who are putting themselves at serious risk of personal injury and utility service interruptions,” said CGA president and CEO Sarah K. Magruder Lyle. “It is important that anyone who plans to dig, regardless of how shallow the project is, contacts 811 beforehand to have their buried utilities marked so they can ensure that their communities stay safe and connected.”

The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig this year include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub: 74%
  • Building a fence: 28%
  • Building a deck or patio: 24%
  • Installing a mailbox: 20%
  • Something else: 8%

In addition to working on projects themselves, 79.1% of homeowners said they would consider hiring a contractor to complete digging projects on their property. Of those, 82% said it was important to them that the contractor contacts 811 before digging to have underground utilities marked with paint or flags.

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 811 center that will take your 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 more than 2,700 members representing 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’s Damage Prevention Institute is focused on providing the industry with powerful insights and opportunities to reduce damages through a metrics-focused, peer-reviewed model. 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 https://www.commongroundalliance.com.

About the study

SurveyMonkey conducted a national omnibus study on Feb. 27 on behalf of CGA. A total of 1,058 self-identified homeowners 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 +/- 3.1 percentage points.

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