PG&E has resources for homeowners and licensed contractors who may have questions, or need to make contact with someone specific within our Damage Prevention organization, and to help you dig safely. Below you will find steps to take before starting your excavation project, educational videos, links to submit a one-call ticket, frequently asked questions and an overview of PG&E’s Damage Prevention organization, with contact information and maps.
For additional information about 811, or to make an online request, visit USANorth 811 (Northern California) or DigAlert (Southern California). Professional excavators can visit 811PRO for training videos and other resources.
Identify and mark your digging area with a white substance such as chalk, spray paint, flour or marking whiskers, tags, stakes or any combination.
California law requires that you call 811 or visit 811california.org at least two business days before starting your excavation project. Whether planting a tree or a garden, digging holes for fence posts or driving stakes for concrete, use this FREE one-call service. For more information visit California 811.
PG&E and other companies will use colored utility flags, stakes or paint to mark underground lines following the American Public Works Association Uniform Color Code (PNG, 130 KB). Please leave the marks in place until you are finished digging. The marks are valid for 28 days.
Only use hand tools, such as shovels, within the 24-inch zone. After finishing your project, carefully backfill and compact the soil.
Please report any signs of a gas leak immediately.
We add a distinctive, sulfur-like, rotten egg odor so you can detect even small amounts of natural gas. However, DO NOT rely only on your sense of smell to detect the presence of natural gas.
Some people may not be able to smell the odor due to a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure), or because it is masked or hidden by other odors that are present. Also, certain conditions in the pipe and soil can cause odor fade—the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.
Pay attention to hissing, whistling or roaring sounds coming from underground or from a gas appliance.
Be aware of dirt spraying into the air; continual bubbling in a pond, creek, puddle or other source of standing water; as well as dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.
PG&E's Damage Prevention Department is comprised of Locate & Mark (L&M), the Dig-in Reduction Team (DiRT), Aerial & Ground Patrol, Standby Governance, Damage Recovery and Metrics, and Public Awareness. The Damage Prevention organization's vision is to work with the excavation community in a manner that fosters effective communication between all stakeholders to prevent public safety incidents resulting from excavation damage. The department seeks to educate the public about the USA Program to improve utilization of the system such that all excavation sites are located, and field marked for all subsurface infrastructure prior to the start of excavation. While PG&E's focus continues to be on responding to requests to locate and mark subsurface installations, educating the public about the existence of the 811 Program and each party's responsibilities in the process is also critical to improving safety on all excavation sites, protecting the public from excavation damage-related incidents and ensuring the reliability of the subsurface utility infrastructure. Each of the Damage Prevention programs works in concert to support the mission statement of the Damage Prevention and Compliance organization which is, "Demonstrate our commitment to public safety and damage prevention through regulatory compliance, education and awareness."
PG&E's L&M Program is a component of the Damage Prevention organization within PG&E's Gas Operations. Today PG&E has more than 320 full-time employee locators across our coverage territory supplemented by additional contracted locating support. The L&M team responds to 811 notifications (also known as "tickets") from excavators who have requested to have their excavation site located and field marked, or cleared, for the presence of its subsurface installations. This is normally done by a locator in the field who will review records or maps and use specialized equipment to locate the underground utilities. The locations of the utilities are identified when the locators place marks on the ground such as paint, flags, whiskers or chalk. The marks are used to indicate the approximate location of an underground natural gas pipeline, electric cable or fiber optic cable.
The Dig-in Reduction Team (DiRT) is responsible for investigating all excavation related damages to PG&E-owned subsurface installations. DiRT members conduct investigations when incidents occur to include interviews with involved parties, overall scene analysis, USA ticket verification with photo review, and taking measurements related to the incident. DiRT members are familiar with California Excavation Law 4216 GC, Common Ground Alliance's (CGA) Best Practices, and other Federal Regulations related to safe excavation practices. DiRT focuses on preventing incidents from occurring by developing partnerships with excavators, having discussions around safe excavation practices, sharing lessons learned, and working in partnership to keep workers and the public safe.
To request a free 811 training, email DamagePrevention@pge.com with the subject line "811 Workshop Request."
The objective of the Patrols Process is to observe and maintain surface conditions on and adjacent to the transmission pipeline right-of-way (GT ROW) in order to provide safe access to gas facilities, detect unauthorized excavation, and to document and report any factors affecting pipeline safety and operations. The Patrols Process also covers GT Vegetation Management and pipeline markers.
The Standby Governance Team provides onsite PG&E representatives anytime excavation takes place near PG&E's Critical assets to ensure safe excavation practices are being implemented. PG&E provides Standby as a free service as we understand how important this role is in protecting contractors, our communities, and keeping our commitment of providing safe and reliable energy to California. Standby Inspector duties include: monitoring the excavation process, inspection the of PG&E's Gas facilities, reporting of any issues or abnormalities on the facility, observation of the backfill process, and educating excavators of best practices to keep everyone safe. Standby Inspectors are PG&E's "last line of defense" to protect our communities from a critical facility rupture as a result of unsafe excavation. Please help us keep California safe by requesting a Standby Inspector for your excavation when deeming necessary during your onsite field meeting.
Standby Hotline: 1-800-875-7915
The Damage Recovery Team is responsible for recouping repair costs when a PG&E asset is damaged. It's the team's job to ensure ratepayers do not absorb these expenses and the liable party is held responsible. To accomplish this task, the team reviews all damage events to determine if a responsible party can be identified and if liability can be proven. Once responsibility and liability are ascertained then the claim is tracked for recovery. Additionally, the team works with various lines of business responsible for the repair to ensure all expenses are captured. Finally, the team files a tort claim and works with law and collections to recover the loss. Each damage event is recorded and mapped to more than 30 key data points. PG&E leadership uses this data to identify specific opportunities to reduce or prevent future damage to PG&E assets.
PG&E is committed to on-going communications with the affected public, excavators, emergency response officials and public officials to maintain public safety by raising the awareness of pipelines and reducing the likelihood and potential impact of pipeline damage through education, resources and programs like 811 "Call Before You Dig." The Public Awareness Program is designed to enhance public safety, emergency preparedness and environmental protection through increased public awareness and knowledge and includes outreach activities for professional excavators (EX), local public officials (PO), emergency response officials (ER) and the general affected public (AP) who live and work within PG&E's distribution service territory and near transmission pipelines, gathering pipelines, storage facilities and compressor stations.
Utility owners have two working days, plus the day of the call to mark out their utilities. You will receive a positive response from all utilities responding to your USA ticket.
The FREE one-call service, or "ticket," is the document you submit through your local one-call center requesting utilities to mark or locate their facilities at your worksite at least two-working days before you begin an excavation. When you call 811 or visit california811.org to submit your ticket online, you will receive a ticket number for your individual request. Your ticket number will begin with either a "W" or an "X" followed by 9 numbers. Be sure to keep the ticket number assigned to your request for at least the duration of the excavation and preferably longer for your records.
California Government Code 4216(g) defines excavation as any operation in which earth, rock, or other material in the ground is moved, removed, or otherwise displaced by means of tools, equipment, or explosives in any of the following ways: grading, trenching, digging, ditching, drilling, augering, tunneling, scraping, cable or pipe plowing and driving, or any other way.
When digging in an area around utility lines, it is critical that you follow the tolerance zone guidelines. The tolerance zone is an area 24 inches on either side of the outside diameter (or center line if diameter isn't provided) of the marked utility line. In the tolerance zone, you are required to excavate using only human powered hand tools.
Utility companies will mark their lines wherever they own and operate their utility at your dig site. This could be in a roadway, sidewalk, front yard or even in a backyard. PG&E will mark on private property if a gas or electric line is present. Private utility lines (landscape irrigation and lighting, natural gas line to a barbeque, electrical line to a detached garage or shed, etc.) will not be marked since they are not owned by a utility.
Yes. Call 811 or visit california811.org at least two working days before you dig, plant or begin any excavation project no matter how large or small. A utility line may be in close proximity to an existing fence or retaining wall you're trying to replace. California law requires you to use this FREE one-call service. The date of notification does not count as part of the two working-day notice. For example, If excavation will begin on Friday, an excavator must call no later than Tuesday.
Each person or company performing an excavation needs to have a ticket created under their name. If you are hiring a contractor to perform work on your property, the contractor needs to contact 811 and submit a request for them or their company. You may also submit a ticket under your name, but your contractor needs to be advised that the ticket you submit only covers any work you do yourself, and not the work they are doing.
Yes. Call 811 or visit california811.org at least two working days prior to excavation, including digging and planting. Use hand tools at all times when working within 24 inches of the outside edge of any underground lines. Hand tools such as shovels or post-hole diggers cause the most amount of damage incidents.
811 is a FREE one-call service. Utility members fund the center and the cost of locating the utilities in an effort to provide the public a free service that will prevent or limit damage to underground utilities.
Yes. mark your project area in white paint. If you don't have white paint available, you can also use white stakes, white flags, white whiskers, white chalk and even white baking flour. If you neglect to pre-mark your dig site, utility members may choose not to locate their facilities.
If the damaged utility line poses a threat to life, health, or public safety, evacuate the worksite (300 feet or more upwind from damage) and contact 9-1-1 to dispatch emergency services. If you discover or cause any damage, such as breaks, leaks, nicks, dents, gouges, grooves, or other damage to subsurface installation lines, conduits, coatings or cathodic protection, you must immediately report it to the affected utility member. You can get the emergency contact information for the damaged utility owner by contacting 811 and notify them that you have damaged a facility at your worksite. Never attempt to fix, repair, pinch, squeeze, zip tie or bury the damaged facility.
If you suspect a gas leak or if you hit, accidentally dent, scrape or damage an underground gas line:
The utility members will use the American Public Works Association Color Code system to mark their underground facilities for you.
The color code is:
You can spot PG&E's larger transmission pipelines by looking for pipeline markers. They specify the approximate or offset location; however, not all pipelines follow a straight path between markers. These markers also indicate the need for extra care when digging in the area.
Use our interactive online map to find out if there are natural gas transmission pipelines in your area.
Our bright yellow markers indicate a natural gas transmission pipeline is nearby, and display our 24-hour emergency gas hotline number.
We created this first-of-its-kind excavation safety program to reduce accidents and protect underground gas and electric systems.
Post these informative posters in the workplace and on the jobsite to remind workers that it's necessary to call 811 before digging.
Download postersContractor gas safety poster (PDF, 3.1 MB)
Common Ground Alliance is a member-driven association committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices.