Local utilities warn about the dangers underground

Arizona utilities stress the importance of calling 811 before digging

Each day in Arizona more than five utility lines are damaged due to unsafe digging*. Damaging a buried utility line is dangerous, disruptive and costly. Thankfully, it can all be avoided with one simple call to 811 before digging.

This Thursday, August 11, 2022, is National 811 Day and Arizona’s public utilities have teamed up to remind homeowner, construction crews and anyone planning to dig to call 811 before any digging project to avoid digging up trouble.

Arizona Public Service, Southwest Gas, SRP, Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services want to remind the public of the dangers that come with digging into a utility line and encourage customers to know what’s below – call 811 before digging.

Across the state, many shared utility services that communities rely on run through corridors directly underneath them. These potentially hazardous lines include: natural gas, electricity, communications, water and more. Too often, homeowners completing do-it-yourself projects in their yard do not realize that many of these utilities may be buried just a few inches below the surface.

Underground power lines, while well insulated, can be easily damaged by a shovel or pick and create a shock or flash hazard. This can cause service interruptions to customers and, more importantly, create an extreme safety risk to the person digging.

The utility companies want to remind the public that a natural gas leak can be detected by a distinct sulfur-like odor, like rotten eggs, even if it’s faint or momentary. Unusual hissing or roaring coming from the ground or an above-ground pipeline, bubbling water and discolored plants or grass surrounding a pipeline, can also be signs of a leak.

Citizens can contact Arizona 811 from anywhere in Arizona at least two full working days prior to digging. Arizona 811 will send utility companies out to the work site to locate and mark underground lines, pipes and cables at, or near, a planned dig site. Customers can also submit a free 811 request easily online using E-Stake. In the United States, there are uniform color codes for the temporary marking of underground utilities. They are as follows:

  • RED – electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
  • ORANGE – telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit
  • YELLOW – natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or other gaseous or flammable material
  • GREEN – sewers and drain lines
  • BLUE – drinking water, irrigation and slurry lines
  • PURPLE – reclaimed water
  • PINK – temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities
  • WHITE – proposed excavation limits or routes

About APS:
APS serves more than 1.3 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is a leader in delivering affordable, clean and reliable energy in the Southwest. The company is committed to serving customers with 100% clean power by 2050. As owner and operator of Palo Verde Generating Station, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free electricity, and with one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, APS’s current energy mix is 50% clean. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW). Media contact: Lily Quezada, Lily.Quezada@aps.com, 623-297 2325

About Southwest Gas:
Southwest Gas serves more than 2 million customers in Arizona, California and Nevada with clean, affordable natural gas, safely and reliably. Media contact: Amy Washburn, Amy.Washburn@swgas.com, 602-763-3289

About SRP:
SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest electricity provider in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving approximately 1.1 million customers. SRP provides water to about half of the Valley’s residents, delivering more than 244 billion gallons of water (750,000 acre-feet) each year, and manages a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes an extensive system of reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals. For more information, visit srpnet.com. Media contact: Kathleen Mascarenas, Kathleen.mascarenas@srpnet.com, 602-236-2500

About TEP and UniSource:

TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to more than 438,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. UniSource provides natural gas service to more than 165,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. It also provides electric service to more than 100,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. For more information about UniSource, visit uesaz.com. TEP, UniSource and their parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc. (TSX/NYSE: FTS), which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. For more information, visit fortisinc.com. Media contact: Joe Barrios, jbarrios@tep.com, 520-884-3725.



*Common Ground Alliance, 2020 DIRT Report- commongroundalliance.com/DIRT

Close-up view of dirt shoveled around the base of a newly planted tree

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