Rise in Strikes to Underground Utilities Prompts SDG&E Reminder: "Call 811 Before You Dig"

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 11, 2017 – An increase in the number of incidents where natural gas lines are damaged by third-party contractors or residents prompted San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today to remind customers about the importance of calling 8-1-1 before digging underground.

The frequency of strikes on gas lines has more than doubled since 2010, with the number of incidents increasing steadily each year. Last year, natural gas lines were damaged 354 times. That’s nearly once a day.

The damage is often caused by contractors or residents who did not contact 8-1-1 in advance of excavation work to have underground utilities marked. Unreported damage, where gas lines are nicked or hit, can also lead to corrosion that can cause problems months or even years later. Work as simple as installing a mailbox or adding landscaping could result in damage to a gas line. Contacting 8-1-1 before starting any project involving digging is the best way to avoid damage to underground utilities.

“Hitting and damaging a gas line can result in a serious safety hazard, fire, property damage and costly repairs; and places additional burden on emergency service personnel who are required to respond,” said Gina Orozco-Mejia, SDG&E’s vice president of gas operations. “Furthermore, gas leaks caused by damages disrupt daily lives, and cause a wide-range of inconveniences from service outages that can shut down your favorite coffee shop on your way to work, to forcing street closures that cause traffic delays impacting your ability to get home or to work.”

Underground utilities, including natural gas pipelines, 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.

Through a nationwide program, contractors and homeowners can call 8-1-1, or submit a request at Call811.com, at least two business days prior to digging. SDG&E will then mark the location of buried gas lines free of charge. It typically takes only 24–48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines. SDG&E is on pace this year to complete 150,000 underground utility mark outs.

If you suspect a natural gas pipeline has been damaged or you detect a gas leak call SDG&E immediately at 800-411-7343. Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent could impair pipeline function or lead to a leak, so it’s best to always err on the side of caution.

SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides safe, reliable, clean energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. More than 4,200 employees work to provide the cleanest, safest and most reliable energy in the West. The company was the first to meet California’s goal of delivering 33 percent of energy from renewable sources, has fueled the adoption of electric vehicles and energy efficiency through unique customer programs, and supports a number of non-profit partners. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.