Spring 2013      |      Stephen P. Sands, Registrar      |      Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor


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Call 811 Before You Begin Excavation Projects

There are several reasons to make sure you call 811 before you begin an excavation project—safety risks and potential fines are at the top of the list, not to mention the possibility of losing your contractor license.

A recent example of how dangerous an unauthorized dig can be came March 15 in northeast Fresno. A company digging in one of the city's busiest thoroughfares struck a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, causing a leak that forced a major intersection and nearby businesses to be shut down. The company had not obtained the needed identification number before digging at the site, an official said, and now faces fines and repair costs that could reach more than $300,000.

Anytime you plan to disturb a ground surface—whether by digging, drilling, boring, etc.—you must call 811 and coordinate with either the Northern or Southern California regional notification center at least two working days (but not more than 14 calendar days) before beginning your project.

The center will issue an inquiry identification number to you as confirmation of the call, and an Underground Service Alert (USA) excavation ticket number, which is only valid for 28 days. Every contractor excavating at a job site must have his or her own USA identification (ticket) number for the excavation work he or she is performing. An excavation permit is not valid without the identification number.

The regional notification center call is free when you dial 8-1-1. If you fail to register, your excavation will be considered unauthorized digging and you may be subject to a fine up to $50,000, held responsible for any repair costs, and potentially lose your contractor license (Government Code section 4216-4216.9).

The regional notification center websites provide information about permit exemptions and other state laws and requirements. Both Northern and Southern California centers also offer an online procedure to start the approval process for excavations at a single site only.

Unauthorized digging can damage telephone cables and disrupt service, or cut a fiber optic cable carrying millions of calls and resulting in costly repairs. The biggest safety hazard is the possibility of an explosion from hitting a gas line or electrocution from an electric line.

The Northern California regional notification center (www.usanorth.org) serves the entire state of Nevada and the following California counties, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding holidays:

Alameda Marin Santa Clara
Alpine Mariposa Santa Cruz
Amador Mendocino Shasta
Butte Merced Sierra
Calaveras Modoc Siskiyou
Colusa Mono Solano
Contra Costa Monterey Stanislaus
Del Norte Napa Sonoma
El Dorado Nevada Sutter
Fresno Placer Tehama
Glenn Plumas Trinity
Humboldt Sacramento Tulare
Kern San Benito Tuolumne
Kings San Francisco Yolo
Lake San Joaquin Yuba
Lassen San Luis Obispo  
Madera San Mateo  

The Southern California Underground Service Alert (www.digalert.org) center serves the following counties Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding holidays:

Imperial Orange San Diego
Inyo Riverside Santa Barbara
Los Angeles San Bernardino Ventura

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