Call Before You Dig!

Call Before You Dig

Underground Service Alert (USA) is a free service for homeowners, excavators and professional contractors who are digging, blasting, trenching, drilling, grading or excavating.

USA is available to take your calls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for holidays. All utilities have two business days (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to mark and locate underground lines.

When you contact USA, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and other utilities are notified so they can identify whether they have underground facilities at the excavation site.

PG&E will either mark the area or notify you that the area is clear.

Remember—we only mark PG&E owned gas, electric lines and communication lines. Other utility companies will locate and mark their own telephone, communications, water or other underground lines.

Calling before you dig can not only save you money from a damage claim, it can also save your life. For more information on Underground Service Alert, visit the following Web sites:

  • USA North - Serving Central/Northern California and Nevada.
  • USA South - Serving Santa Barbara, Ventura, Inyo, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties.
  • 811 - Learn all about 811 and safe digging.

Before Digging, Know What's Underground

Electric power lines, natural gas pipelines, communications lines and other utility services could be within a few feet of the surface. For homeowners, excavating in your yard poses some risk. Digging into an underground electric line can cause power outages and personal injury from shock or electrocution.

A damaged gas pipeline or service to a house can create an explosion hazard that potentially endangers both persons and property. These underground facilities are not always located out in the street. So whether you are grading, installing sprinklers or planting a tree, PG&E encourages you to make the call to USA.

What happens when you call. When you call USA, an operator will ask you a few questions such as your planned excavation location, date and time of excavation, your name, city/county permit number (if known), and whether or not you marked out your site in white paint (see instructions below). Two working days notice is required on all USA tickets, including renewals and extensions. Each USA ticket is active for 28 calendar days from the date called in.

You are required to mark out your proposed excavation site in white paint. Each person excavating is required to outline the proposed excavation in white paint. Chalk-based paint is recommended as it cleans up readily. The USA Web site has suggested guidelines for your work area mark out. You will also see how utilities depict their underground facilities.

What PG&E does. PG&E will typically field mark the horizontal location of gas and electric facilities by painting stripes on surface streets and sidewalks or marking off pavement areas with colored flags. Yellow designates gas lines and red designates electric lines.

Steps to a Successful Excavation

Common Ground Alliance

PG&E strongly encourages anyone planning an excavation to utilize the best practices for an excavation established by the Common Ground Alliance. The Best Practices can be found at the Common Ground Alliance’s Web site.

  • Plan the excavation. Calls to 811 can be made up to 14 days in advance. Advanced notice helps utilities schedule their mark and locate resources.
  • Call USA at least two working days prior to the start of excavation.
  • Determine the limits of your excavation.
  • Mark out your excavation in white paint.

Verify that all known facility owners have marked out their underground facilities.

  • Hand locate and protect underground facilities.
  • Respect and maintain the field markings for the duration of the job.
  • Extend the USA ticket if your project goes beyond 28 calendar days.
  • Notify PG&E immediately at 1-800-743-5000 if you contact, scrape, dent, nick or otherwise damage any gas or electric line.