With Gardening Activities on the Rise Amid Pandemic, SDG&E Urges Customers to Call 811 Before Digging to prevent Gas Line Strikes

With Gardening Activities on the Rise Amid Pandemic, SDG&E Urges Customers to Call 811 Before Digging to prevent Gas Line Strikes

SAN DIEGO, July 2, 2020 – Amid increased gardening activities and yard projects associated with people staying home during the pandemic, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched a campaign to remind everyone to call 811 to get underground utility lines marked before they dig.

Unsafe digging from construction and landscaping activities resulted in almost 350 local gas emergencies last year. SDG&E aims to reduce the number of these incidents.

Already this year, there have been approximately 150 gas emergencies due to unsafe digging. 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. These incidents also take up precious police and fire response resources.

“Many homeowners and contractors aren’t aware that calling 811 to get underground utilities marked should be the first step, before they undertake projects that involve extensive digging,” said David Buczkowski, SDG&E’s vice president of gas distribution.  “Taking that simple step to call beforehand helps to keep our communities safe and avoids potential fines.”

Starting July 1, 2020, the new California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board (Dig Safe Board) will begin levying fines of up to $50,000 and/or require contractors/ excavators who strike utility lines as a result of not calling 811 to take training classes. Board investigators have been preparing for July 2020 by conducting investigations of excavation incidents throughout the state.

Anyone can submit a request to have underground utility lines marked by calling 811 or visiting DigAlert.org. Requests should be submitted at least two business days before digging. SDG&E will then mark the location of buried gas and electric lines free of charge. There is also an 811-app available that makes it even easier to schedule and track requests. It typically takes only 24-48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines.

Regardless of the depth of the digging or familiarity with the property, SDG&E urges the public to always contact 811 before initiating a project which involves extensive digging or shoveling. On average SDG&E receives approximately 12,000 to 13,000 requests each month.

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.

No damage to gas or electric lines are 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.

SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing around 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas infrastructure; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.