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Jenna Shaver
Jim McDonald
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​september 14, 2016
make sure you know the dangers lurking below
arizona 811 and fellow state utilities stress the importance of calling before you dig
PHOENIX – In neighborhoods across the state, services that communities rely on every day run through corridors directly underground: gas, electric, communications, water, and more. Too often, homeowners completing DIY projects in their yard don’t realize that many of these utilities are buried just a few inches below ground. Arizona 811, Southwest Gas and APS want to warn customers of the dangers associated with digging into a utility line, and encourage customers to know what’s below – call 811 or click before you dig.
Approximately 39 million people in the United States will dig this year without first having underground utility lines marked. Digging without knowing the approximate location of utilities can lead to serious injuries (potentially fatal), service disruptions and costly repairs.
For APS, thus far this year approximately 160 events have occurred where a customer or contractor has dug into an underground utility line. Underground power lines, however well insulated, can easily be damaged by a shovel or pick and create a shock or flash hazard. Digging into underground lines can be life threatening, and can cause outages in the area. In fact, so far in 2016 nearly 19,500 customers have lost power due to customers or contractors digging into APS lines.
For Southwest Gas, more than 250 events have occurred throughout Arizona due to third-party damage of a natural gas line in 2016. This not only poses a safety risk, but also a possible interruption of service to customers. A natural gas leak can be detected by smell; a distinct sulfur-like odor, similar to rotten eggs, even if faint or momentary, will most likely be present. A leak also can be recognized by an unusual hissing or roaring coming from the ground or above-ground pipeline, as well as bubbling water and discolored plants or grass surrounding a pipeline.
Arizona residents should contact Arizona 811 at least two full working days prior to digging. Arizona 811 will send affected local utility companies out to the site to mark the location of their underground lines, pipes and cables at or near a planned dig site. Customers also can make an 811 ticket request online for their own yard using E-Stake.
Do you know what the utility markings on the ground mean? In the United States, uniform color codes for temporary marking of underground utilities are:


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
WHITE – proposed excavation boundaries or routes