Austin Utilities: Digging season safety

Published 8:24 am Monday, June 5, 2017

Keven Maxa

Engineering Supervisor

Call before you dig, Gopher State One-Call, Call 811. Have you heard these terms before? Digging season is well underway , so you may hear them more often. Digging safety affects everyone. That is why whether you are a contractor excavating a hole or a homeowner digging to plant a tree, it is important to remember the first step is to call Gopher State One Call by dialing 811 at least two business days before you plan to dig.

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When you call before you dig, you can be assured underground utilities will be identified for your safety. Austin Utilities has utility locators on staff dedicated to identifying underground utility locations by using colored spray paint. Each color represents a different utility. This allows excavators and homeowners the ability to quickly see where buried lines are located.

Underground utility colors – Call Before You Dig, dial 811

Digging goes on across Austin year round. Much of the convenience we take for granted in our modern lives is supplied by underground utilities. Water, natural gas, electricity, telecommunications, wastewater, and more infrastructure is buried throughout our community. A backhoe hitting a utility line can cause an outage to a neighborhood, or even a large part of our city. We expect that every time we flip a light switch, open a faucet, our desired utility will be there; safe and ready to use. Unsafe digging practices can cause interruptions to that utility service.

Making sure you have utility lines located is very important. Some of our utilities can be dangerous when hit by an excavator or homeowner. Electric lines can injure or kill the person digging or even a nearby bystander. A natural gas leak caused by a backhoe can cause a dangerous situation very quickly, either by the escaping gas catching fire, or by the leaking gas migrating to a nearby house or building, leading to a possible explosion or fire. Even a water main hit by an excavator can cause enormous damage very quickly.

Austin Utilities takes digging safety very seriously to protect our customers, the people excavating, our staff, and the people around that digging. We partner with other utilities to hold annual Dig Safety meetings for local professional excavators to remind them to stay safe and protect the public while they perform their work. We also remind homeowners to remember to always “Call Before You Dig”, to Gopher State One-Call, dial 811. Call or go online at least two business days before you plan on digging. Keep yourselves, and your neighbors, safe.
Austin Utilities is a municipal utility serving approximately 12,300 electric customers, 10,300 natural gas customers, and 9000 water customers. Their mission is to offer utility products and services in a safe, reliable and responsible manner in order to enhance the quality of life in our community. Austin Utilities’ Board of Commissioners are elected by the consumer-owners of Austin to represent their best interest. For more information on Austin Utilities visit their website at