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Planning to dig?

Here’s what you need to know…

Calling before you dig helps keep your family and community safe. Homeowners should contact New York 811, by dialing 811, at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) before beginning any digging project. Homeowners can also call 811, the national call before you dig number, to request that their lines be marked. (Calls made to 811 are automatically routed to the nearest one call center.)

It’s important to call before starting any type of work involving digging.
Examples include:
  • Landscaping
  • Digging holes for fence posts or a mailbox
  • Anchoring supports for decks and swings sets
  • Planting trees
  • Removing tree roots
  • Driving landscaping stakes into the ground
  • Installing a retainer wall

Calling New York 811 is the only way to determine the exact location of a utility line or underground structure.

By not calling, you risk:

  • Costly property or environmental damage
  • Explosion or fire on your property
  • Power or utilities services interruptions
  • Injury—or even death

Remember, even if your digging project is small, it’s always best to call!

For larger projects…

When hiring an excavator or contractor for a digging project, they, not the homeowner, are responsible for contacting New York 811. For questions about when to call New York 811, contact one of our liaisons at 1-800-524-7603.

Utility Color Codes

When utility company representatives mark a location, they use colored flags and/or paint to identify the type of underground service:


temporary survey marking

electric power lines

gas, oil steam chemical

Cable, Communication

Sewer, Storm Drain

Reclaimed Water

Potable Water

Homeowners should follow these steps for safe digging…

Contacting New York 811 before you dig is the only way to determine the approximate location of an underground facility.
  • Call 811

    Call 811 at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays), before beginning any landscape or digging project on your property. For your convenience, we accept calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays.

  • Have Information Ready

    Have the following information handy when you call:

    • Your county, city or township
    • Digging location (street address and nearest cross street)
    • Type and extent of work (front/rear/both sides of property)
    • Digging start date and time

  • Wait Until Lines Are Marked

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  • Proceed with Care

    Once your property is marked, proceed with care, allowing at least an 24-inch “tolerance” zone on either side of the marked utility line. Click here for a helpful diagram.

  • Do Not Remove

    Do not remove flags, stakes or paint marks until you are finished digging. Make sure pets and young children do not disrupt or remove markers.

By not calling you risk:

  • Costly property and environmental damage
  • Explosion or fire
  • Power or utilities services interruptions
  • Job delays
  • Legal problems
  • Injury—or even death

If you hit a line…

Contact the utility company (if known) as well as New York 811 immediately even if there appears to be no damage. (Not all damage can be detected by the naked eye.)

If a substance starts releasing into the air, such as natural gas, call 9-1-1. For your safety, walk away immediately and take steps to clear the area. Don’t try to repair or stop a leak yourself or use anything that might create a spark, such as a cell phone.

Free safety presentation!

New York 811 features two staff liaisons charged with promoting safe digging throughout our region.

Each year, they make over 150 educational presentations to various organizations, including excavation companies and contractor groups. Click here to learn more.

New York 811

Non-Compliance Reporting Form

If you witness an alleged Code 753 violation, please fill in as much information as possible and submit to New York 811. Upon submission, New York 811 will forward your allegation to the NYS PSC. Additionally, New York 811 will forward this Non-Compliance Form to the Company committing the alleged infraction (less your contact information).

Tolerance Diagram