With spring blossoms on the horizon, many are anxious to get outside for yard, garden and home projects. NW Natural reminds homeowners, contractors and landscapers to call 811 to locate underground utilities at least two business days ahead of starting any project that involves digging. Locate requests are accepted over the phone or online at Oregon811.com and Washington811.com.
“It’s incredibly important to contact 811 to have utility lines located before digging,” said Jaimie Lemke, NW Natural’s damage prevention supervisor. “It’s free, and it’s the law. It can also help prevent service interruption, thousands of dollars in damages, and the risk of injuries.”
In the Northwest, NW Natural responds to more than 500 dig-ins or damages each year in its service territory, which are often caused by a third-party contractor or homeowner who didn’t call 811 before starting a project.
NW Natural has a team of employees dedicated to educating contractors in such damage prevention efforts, and has reduced damages by about 70% since 2006 when it began comprehensive efforts to address the issue. In 2021 NW Natural became the first Oregon-based utility to earn a Gold Shovel Stand Certification for its commitment to practicing and promoting safe excavation practices.
A national survey of homeowners revealed 74% of homeowners plan to complete a home improvement project involving digging this year. More than 49 million Americans will take a risk by not contacting 811 before they begin to dig.
The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include: planting a tree or shrub, building a fence, deck or patio, and Installing a mailbox.