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Building or landscaping this spring? Call before you dig

Call 811 before you digApril is National Safe Digging Month, the time of year when Polk-Burnett and Digger’s Hotline remind you how important it is to call 811 to help prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages.

Are you planting this spring? Installing a new fence or landscaping? Before you dig into any home improvement project, have utility lines marked. One call to Diggers Hotline, 811, can protect you from expense and injury. That’s good advice during National Safe Digging Month this April and throughout the year, said Rick Kosloski, rights-of-way manager for Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative.

There are millions of miles of underground utility lines in the U.S., including gas, water, sewer, cable TV, high-speed internet, telephone and electric services.  Unintentionally striking an underground utility line can result in outages for an entire neighborhood, injury to yourself and others, and expensive repair costs. Every digging project warrants a call to 811 and Diggers Hotline, urged Kosloski.

What is 811?
811 is the national phone number designed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help protect homeowners and professional excavators from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects, large and small. When you call 811, you’re directed to Diggers Hotline, Wisconsin’s utility locate service.

When should you call 811?
Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling Diggers Hotline before each job, no matter how large or small. Common projects may include excavating a new garden area, installing a mailbox, planting a shrub or tree, or building a new patio, deck or shed.

Wisconsin Statute 182.0175 requires all excavators, including homeowners and construction contractors, to contact Diggers Hotline at least three working days before starting the work.

Who should call 811?
“It’s important to know that if a contractor is doing work on your property, he or she cannot work under your name, and a homeowner cannot work under a contractor’s name,” explained Kosloski.  “The property owner and the contractor each must have a valid Diggers Hotline ticket before digging.”

Why call 811 before you dig?
Every digging project requires a call to 811. Hitting an underground utility line when digging can cause serious injuries, disrupt utility services and incur expensive fines and repair costs. Beyond these serious consequences, calling before you dig is the law. (Wisconsin Statute 182.0175 requires all excavators, including homeowners and construction contractors, to contact Diggers Hotline at least three working days before starting the work.)

How does 811 and Diggers Hotline work?

  1. Contact Diggers Hotline by calling 811, 800-242-8511 (800-542-2289, TTY) or
  2. Call or request online service any time of the day or night; the call center is open 24/7, but keep in mind that Monday and Tuesday mornings are the busiest calling times.
  3. Diggers Hotline requires at least three working days prior to the start of the excavation. As defined by state law, a working day is any day other than Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
  4. Keep the ticket number you receive from Diggers Hotline; it is your legal proof that you have called Diggers Hotline and complied with the law.
  5. You have 10 calendar days to begin your work. The markings remain valid if you continue to work on your project without interruptions.

Kosloski also reminds you that Diggers Hotline does not mark private facilities. Examples of private facilities include electric lines to your detached garage, shed or yard light, an underground sprinkler system, security system, private sewer or water system and walkway lights connected by underground cables. These facilities are owned by you. If you desire to have private facilities marked, please contact a local electrician.

For more information about safe digging and utility locate service, contact Diggers Hotline, 811, 800-242-8511 or

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