Survey reveals 49.3 million Americans plan to dig without contacting 811 first, risking disruption to critical services
Colorado 811 reminds everyone 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
Denver, Colorado (March 31, 2023) – In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Colorado 811 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. Making a free request before digging online at www.co811.org or by calling 811 will help everyone who digs maintain essential utility service for their communities, while keeping themselves and their neighbors safe by reducing the likelihood of accidentally digging into buried utility lines.
“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 Todd Griffeth, Colorado 811 Damage Prevention Liaison Strategist. “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 safely dig away from buried lines.”
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, Colorado 811 encourages everyone 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 811beforeyoudig.com for complete information.
Everyone who contacts 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local 811 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 Colorado 811
Colorado 811 is the communication link between anyone planning to dig and underground utility owners in the state of Colorado. Colorado 811’s goal is to promote public safety and the protection of underground utilities, while keeping all Coloradans safe. CO811 does not perform any type of locating services.
CGA is a member-driven association of more than 2,700 organizations 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 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.