Essential Reasons to Call 811 Before You Dig |
Shovel in lawn near flags identifying underground lines related to 811 Call Before You Dig.

You’re ready to embark on a home improvement project, like adding a fence or planting a tree. The planning is done, you’ve purchased your materials, and you’re ready to dig. But wait a minute. There may be one important step you’ve overlooked: Have you called 811?

What is 811 Call Before You Dig?

811 is the number you can call anywhere in the country to get help identifying the locations of publicly owned utility lines to ensure you don’t cause damage or injury by digging into a line, such as electricity, water, sewage, or cables. If you call within the state, you’ll be connected with New Mexico 811. The agent will then take the information about your project.

Call 811 First

Calling 811 or going online at least two working days before your project can save more time and headaches than you can imagine! The 811 Call Before You Dig line is the number to call for local utilities to come out and mark lines within your work area. That way, you can avoid digging into utility lines, causing damage or injury. You may discover that your project needs to be relocated if it would interfere with utility lines. 

How It Works

You call or log in a minimum of two work days (Monday through Friday, and not counting the day you submit the information) before you plan to dig, providing information about your project and your address. The call center will relay the information to appropriate utility companies. These companies will send out utility location technicians to mark the publicly owned lines within two working days of notification. They will mark the location of utility lines with paint or flags and provide a list of utility lines they have identified that you can compare to the markings.

NM 811 logo

So, When Do I Call?

Let’s assume you’d like to start your project on Saturday. The latest you should call is Wednesday, giving the utility companies Thursday and Friday to schedule a technician to come out and mark the lines. Of course, giving them an extra day or two wouldn’t hurt if you already know what your project entails.

What They Don’t Mark

The utility companies that mark the lines are looking for those owned by their services. They do not mark private utility lines, which are commonly those found between the meter and a home, or utility lines that were installed by the homeowner to out buildings. The homeowner is responsible for identifying those lines.

How Close Can You Dig?

Don’t do any mechanical digging within 18 inches of the marked lines. You can use hand tools or vacuum excavation to work closer than 18 inches to the marks or, if necessary, relocate your project to avoid the lines.

Is This Just for Homeowners?

Homeowners or excavators are required by law to call 811 before digging. Homeowners need to call for projects like digging a hole for a post, planting a tree, or larger projects such as installing a driveway or swimming pool. This is especially crucial if mechanized equipment will be used to dig.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

If you dig into a utility line, you can disrupt service, bear the expense of repairs, and worst of all, cause serious injury or even death. Avoid all those possibilities by calling 811 before digging.

Does it Cost Anything?

This is a free service. The goal is to prevent injury and damage to utility lines. All you have to do is call and provide the information about your project, then avoid the marked lines. It’s as easy as that! Learn more here.


This story sponsored by ZIA NATURAL GAS company

Zia Natural Gas logo, sponsoring the 811 article

Zia Natural Gas Company delivers natural gas to homes and businesses

in Lea, Eddy, Lincoln, Doña Ana and Colfax counties.

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