​Join 941,358 of your neighbors in calling (or clicking) before you dig

April 1, 2021

Lawn marked with spray paint and flags

​​​​​That corner of your yard – you know, the one that gets all that southern light – would be a great place for a garden, you think. Just flowers, nothing complicated. You'll only be digging about six or eight inches down, so you probably won't hit anything important, right?

Wrong. Underground utilities such as natural gas can run just inches from the surface – and hitting one with a shovel could be deadly. And it's not just natural gas. You could hit a power line, too – and how would you feel if that caused, say, an entire hospital or your whole neighborhood to lose power? You could be putting others at risk as well as yourself.

If not a gas or power line, you very likely could hit your internet line. Given our dependency on everyday internet service to run home businesses, take online classes and attend Zoom meetings, a severed internet line could be disastrous. Plus, you'd never hear the end of it if your family couldn't watch Netflix or YouTube!

Fortunately, you can eliminate the guesswork (and obey the law!) by calling 811 or visiting the Gopher State One Call website. It's a free service that sends someone to locate utilities within two business days of contacting them.

If this seems like an unnecessary step, consider this: Gopher State One Call received 941,358 requests in 2020 to have utilities located — that's the most they've had in 10 years! As for those who didn't call, well… over 1,500 of the gas line damages in Minnesota in 2020 occurred because someone failed to call 811.

Submitting your request is easy – you can do it over the phone (just call 811) or submit it online. Last year, 83 percent of all utility location requests were submitted online. This month is a good time to start – after all, April is Safe Digging Month. There's even a proclamation about it from Gov. Walz.

When you're ready to join your shovel-wielding peers by submitting a ticket, enter your dig information online or call 811 to speak to a representative. They'll want to know the following:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Street address
  • Dig location
  • Nearest intersection
  • Type of work
  • The date and time you plan to start digging

Then grab some white stakes or white spray paint to clearly mark the area where you want to dig. If you don't, they'll mark the utilities in your entire yard. And starting this year, they'll specifically ask if you white-marked your proposed dig area. If you answer no, they'll require you to enter an explanation.

We agree, there's nothing like a new garden in Minnesota in the springtime. Except a new garden that has been dug safely. So before you get started in that lovely little corner of your yard, call 811 or visit www.gopherstateonecall.org and know what's below!