Frequently Asked Questions

ID-100149968Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about safe digging. If you have a question or concern that’s not addressed below, Homeowners/DIY-ers may call 811 or 1-800-282-7411 and Professionals/Excavators may contact their Georgia 811 liaison. If you do not know who the liaison is for your region, click here.

 

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Why do I need to call Georgia 811?
 
It is the law in the state of Georgia to have utility lines marked before conducting mechanized digging. Georgia 811 receives notifications, or locate requests, from individuals planning to dig and transmits them to our member utility companies so they may mark their lines and digging can commence, safely. Calling Georgia 811 is one of the best ways to protect the public from harm, prevent utility services interruptions and avoid costly damage.

How may I contact Georgia 811?
 
Homeowners can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (excluding holidays) by calling 811 or 1-800-282-7411. 811 is the national call before you dig number used to request that your lines be marked. Please note that this call and the service are FREE. Georgia 811 accepts Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays, for normal locate requests. Damage and Emergency locate request may be called in 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For a complete list of holidays, click here.

How far in advance can I call?
 
You should call at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, before starting your digging project. Requests received after 4:30 p.m. on weekdays are processed on the next business day. Georgia 811 is closed on legal holidays. For a list of legal holidays, click here.

What type of digging activities should be called in?
 
The law designates that anyone planning to use mechanized equipment for excavation, tunneling, grading, boring, blasting, demolition or similar work should contact Georgia 811. However, for safety’s sake, we recommend you call for any project in which you plan to break ground. Underground utilities can be damaged while individuals are installing mailboxes, building fences or decks, or even planting trees. Remember, even if your project is small, it’s always best to call!

What information do I need before calling Georgia 811?
 
You’ll need the following information handy when you contact us or download this field form:
• Name, area code, phone number, address, city, county and nearest cross streets.
• Type of work to be done and how long it will take.
• Date and start time digging is scheduled to begin.
• If any work will be done within 10 ft. of overhead high voltage power lines.
• Contractor/contact person and phone number.
• Where on the property you want marking done.
• Specific directions to your property – landmarks, etc.

May I notify Georgia 811 online?
 
Yes, Homeowners may use the Georgia 811 eRequest application by clicking here.

Who marks the lines?
 
Utility companies (NOT Georgia 811) mark their own lines. Georgia 811 functions as a communications link between our member utility owners/operators and individuals planning to dig on their property or work site. We electronically notify our members who are operating utility lines in the proposed digging area once we have received a locate request. Keep in mind that companies often hire locating services to mark the lines for them.

Is there a fee to have my lines marked?
 
There is no fee to have your lines marked or to dial 811. Georgia 811 is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to keeping Georgia safe and connected.

What happens after I call?
 
After asking some questions about the area in which you plan to dig, including the address, nearest cross streets and extent of work to be done, we electronically notify Georgia 811 members who own and operate utilities and/or underground facilities in that area. Representatives from these member companies have 48 hours (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to come to the location to mark their underground facilities.

I gave my 48-hour notice, and my lines were not marked. Can I start digging?
 
No. Our member utility owners and operators must provide positive response, or give the “all clear,” before you can begin digging. You can check the status of your request through our Positive Response Information System (PRIS) either online or by phone, 1-888-670-2902. You will need to provide your phone number and your locate request number to access the system. A final check on PRIS should be done at noon on the legal date when all utilities are to be marked. Georgia 811 sends late notices to members who have not responded to the locate request in the designated time period.

Do I need to be present when my lines are marked?
 
There is no need for you to be present unless you have a specific question for the locate technician or if you need to restrain pets or grant the locator access to your property.

Do I need to designate the area where I plan to dig before the locator can mark the utility lines?
 
Georgia 811 recommends marking the area in white paint, flags or stakes. Please do not use any other colors as they represent the presence of underground utility lines (see following question).

Will the locators leave anything to let me know they have been there?
 
In addition to colored flags or paint marking their lines, some utility companies leave a small sign or card in your yard. Each utility is marked by a different color. For a list of color codes, click here.

What’s a “tolerance” or “buffer” zone?
 
A tolerance or buffer zone means the width of the utility facility plus 18 inches on either side of the outside edge of the utility facility. You should dig outside of this area. For a helpful diagram click here.

What happens if I don’t call before I dig?
 
By not calling, you risk serious injury or even death, as well as property or environmental damage, explosion or fire and power or utilities services interruptions.

Remember, even if your digging project is small, it’s always best to call!

How long do I have to wait before I can dig?
 
Please wait 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) before digging.

What kinds of digging projects should homeowners call about?
 
It’s a good idea to call about ANY type of outdoor digging project. Examples include:
• Landscaping
• Digging holes for fence posts or a mailbox
• Anchoring supports for decks and swings sets
• Planting trees
• Removing tree roots
• Driving landscaping stakes into the ground
• Installing a retainer wall

What happens if damage occurs to a utility line while I am digging?
 
Call Georgia 811 to report the damage, even if utility services are not interrupted. Operators are available 24/7, 365 days a year to take emergency calls, 811 or 1-800-282-7411.

My contractor says it’s my responsibility to contact Georgia 811. Is this correct?
 
Anyone, either homeowners or professional excavating contractors, can call Georgia 811 to have underground utilities lines marked prior to digging.

Who are the members of Georgia 811?
 
By law, companies that own or operate underground utility lines must be a member of Georgia 811.

Our member network includes utility companies (e.g. water, sewer, telecommunications, natural gas), municipalities and others with a stake in protecting Georgia’s underground infrastructure. All members meet annually to discuss relevant issues and concerns, outreach initiatives, damage prevention, safe digging and other matters.

After the lines have been marked, how should I proceed?
 
With caution, making sure to respect the 24-inch tolerance zone from the outer edge of the underground facility.

Does my locate request expire?
 
Yes. Your locate request will expire after 30 calendar days. If you have not completed your project within that time, you will need to contact Georgia 811 by dialing 811 or 1-800-282-7411 or visit my.ga811.com to renew your locate request. You may renew your locate request three business days prior to your expiration date.

Is Georgia 811 a utility service provider?
 
No. We are a nonprofit, member-funded corporation which works with utility providers (water, sewer, telecommunications, natural gas companies), to notify them when digging is going to occur in their service areas. In this way, we all work together to keeping Georgia safe and connected. Both the call to Georgia 811 and the marking service are free. You will never receive a bill from Georgia 811.

Does Georgia 811 enforce the law?
 
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) enforces the laws regarding the protection of underground utilities. A section of these laws mandates the existence of a central call center to obtain digging notifications and relay them to member utilities. Georgia 811 is the designated call center for the state. To view a copy of the Georgia Dig Law on the Georgia PSC website click here.

Where can I obtain more information?
 
Georgia 811 offers a variety of educational, training and resource materials [ LINK TO PRODUCT CATALOG] including an elementary school presentation.

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What is the law pertaining to excavators and contractors?
 
By law, anyone planning any mechanized digging or excavating work in Georgia must notify Georgia 811 by phone, 811 or 1-800-282-7411 at least 48 hours (two business days) prior to the project’s start date. Excavators and contractors can enter digging notifications via our online locate request entry system, once trained. Georgia 811 accepts Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays, for normal locate requests. Damage and Emergency locate request may be called in 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For a complete list of the legal holidays, click here. For locate requests made after 4:30 p.m. are considered the next business day.

After I submit my request, how long do I have to wait to excavate?
 
Once we receive your excavation request, our member owners/operators have 48 hours, or two business days, to mark their lines. By law, you may not perform any excavation work during this time.

Can I submit my excavation request online?
 
Yes! Excavators and contractors can access our Web-based locate request entry system EDEN at my.ga811.com. You will be required to provide the same type and amount of information online as you would over the phone. Prior training is required to use the system. See available training sessions on our Web Entry Training page.

What is positive response?
 
All underground facility owners are responsible for providing a positive response indicating that their lines have been marked OR that there are no underground lines within 15 feet of the proposed work site. You can access our Positive Response Information System (PRIS) by calling 1-888-670-2902, or by clicking here, 48 hours after you have made your locate request. Have your locate request number handy. It is recommended you make a final check on PRIS at noon of the legal date you were given to begin digging. This will ensure all lines have been marked.

What is the tolerance zone?
 
The tolerance, or buffer zone, is 18 inches (effective July 1st, 2014) on either side of the outer edge of the facility. Please try not dig within the tolerance zone. However, if you have to dig within the buffer zone, follow these guidelines:
• Do not use picks or mattocks.
• When using a shovel, keep face of blade parallel to and pointing away from the “flag line.”
• When using posthole diggers, keep the opening between blades pointing in the same direction as the utility lines.
• In hard compacted soils, pothole to the side of the locate marks and collapse the soil into the hole while digging towards the marks.

Here is a sample tolerance zone diagram:

Do I need to bring a record of my request (e.g. locate request number) to my job site?
 
While you are not required to have proof of notification compliance at your job site, we recommend you do so in case you hit a line or discover unmarked lines. If you need to call the Georgia 811 from the excavation site, your locate request number allows us to reference your location quickly. Also, in the event that a utility owner or law officer visits your job site, this information provides proof of your compliance with state law.

What if the staking, marking or other designations aren’t completed by the project start date?
 
Please make sure you have consulted the Positive Response Information System (PRIS) to ensure all member owner/operators have responded. Georgia 811 sends late notices to members who have not responded to the locate request in the designated time period. Those members have until noon on the day that work is due to commence to provide positive response. Call 811 or 1-800-282-7411 if you have any questions or concerns about the status of your locate request before you start digging.

What if my excavation work is delayed after lines are marked?
 
Your locate request will expire in 30 calendar days. If excavation continues past the 30 day period, your locate request will need to be renewed. You may renew your locate request three business days prior to the expiration date by dialing 811 or 1-800-282-7411 or visiting my.ga811.com. You should have received the expiration date and renewal date when you called in or entered your locate request.

What if I accidentally hit a line while I am digging?
 
Call Georgia 811 to report the damage, even if utility services are not interrupted. Operators are available 24/7, 365 days a year to take emergency calls, 811 or 1-800-282-7411. If an underground utility containing a hazardous material is damaged and hazardous material is leaking, the contractor is required to notify 911 immediately regardless of the size of the facility.

Some of the marks at my excavation site have faded and several flags are missing. Can I get the lines re-marked?
 
Yes. Simply contact Georgia 811, dial 811 or 1-800-282-7411, and request that your lines be remarked. Once you call, you must cease all excavation work until the utility companies remark their lines.

Does Georgia 811 offer training for excavators and contractors?
 
Yes! Georgia 811 offers a number of training courses on the law, online locate request entry and many other subjects. Please see our Training Request Form to request training from one of our liaisons. If you do not know the Georgia 811 liaison in your area, click here.

Should I pre-mark my site?
 
The law is very specific about the concept of pre-marking or “white lining.” Please review the White Lining FAQs found in this section for clarification.