For immediate release:
12:00 p.m. – Monday, August 9, 2021

Call 811 before you dig. It’s free. It’s safe. It’s the law.

It is not an accident that National Safe Digging Day is Aug. 11. The designation serves as a reminder to everyone to call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before you break ground.

Every day should be considered a safe digging day. “Call Before You Dig” applies at all times, to everyone – whether you’re a homeowner setting a fencepost or a contractor conducting a large excavation.

If you are planning on digging 12 inches or deeper, you risk running into electrical, gas, telecom, or sewer lines. You should call 811 beforehand. Not only are these utilities dangerous to make contact with, but other people and businesses rely on these services.

In Colorado, both residents and companies using excavators to dig beneath their properties are required by law to call 811 and have the area checked before they proceed.

What Happens If You Don’t Contact 811?

  • Penalty for not contacting 811 is $200
  • If an underground utility is damaged as a result, penalties are as follows:

– $5,000 for the first offense

– Up to $25,000 for each subsequent event in a 12-month period

– Up to $75,000 for more than three incidents in a 12-month period

The 811 “Call Before You Dig” number is a national line that was created to help prevent people from coming into contact with underground utility lines during digging projects. When you call 811, a professional be sent to your digging location to mark the areas where the public utility lines are buried free of charge.

When you call, 811 will route you to a local utility locating service. Make sure to tell the operator where you plan to dig and what type of work you will be doing. From there, it takes a few business days for a professional to come mark your utilities with flags or spray-paint. So, make sure to call in advance.

If you are in a rush to complete a project, a few days might seem like a long wait. However, a small waiting period can spare you an injury that could take years of recovery. Even digging professionals can run into trouble with buried power lines.

Even if you previously had utilities located by calling 811, it is best to call before every digging project. Underground utilities can shift, and it is important to be certain of where they are before ever putting a shovel in the ground.

If you accidently come in contact with an underground utility, do not bury the problem. Your first priority should be making the area safe. It can be difficult to locate exactly where a problem is after the damage occurred and was buried. Damage to some underground utilities can cause dangers and inconveniences miles away from the actual site of the damage.

Small nicks in underground wires can be expensive, but necessary, to fix. If you nick an underground utility, notify your utility provider. Do not attempt to fix the problem yourself.

San Isabel Electric urges you to start all outdoor digging projects the safe way—by calling 811 to have underground utilities marked. For more information about 811 and electrical safety, visit SIEA.com/Safety.


As a not-for-profit cooperative utility, San Isabel Electric provides affordable, reliable electricity with exceptional service to communities throughout southern Colorado. Serving nearly 20,000 member-owners and 24,000 meters, San Isabel Electric has been keeping the lights on since 1938. We don’t just serve communities. We are part of communities.