Stay safe and call 811 before starting landscape jobs

Safe Digging Month is a reminder that Xcel Energy provides free locates on buried lines


AMARILLO, Texas (April 5, 2023) – Xcel Energy is advising customers who are eager to start their spring  planting or landscaping to always call 811 to have underground utility lines marked free of charge before  starting any digging projects.

April is National Safe Digging Month, which serves as a reminder that digging without locating utility lines  causes injuries, loss of life, and property damage every year. In 2022, Xcel Energy had seven incidents in  Texas and one in New Mexico when customers did not call 811 and then caused damage to buried  electric lines. 

“Businesses and homeowners digging without locates presents one of the industry’s greatest risks to  customer and public safety,” said Brad Baldridge, Xcel Energy senior director of Customer and  Community Relations. “Whether someone is installing a bush in their backyard or doing a larger home or  public project, always call 811 for a free locate. If someone is contracting with a third party to do any work  that requires soil movement, ensure that they call for a locate. Only you can prevent the next pipeline or  electrical line contact.”

In Texas, homeowners and contractors should call 811 or submit an online request to Texas 811. In New  Mexico, online requests should go to NM 811. In both states, customers should make the request at least  two days before starting a project. Every digging project requires a call, regardless of whether the project  is big or small. Even projects such as installing a mailbox post, building a deck, or planting a tree require 

a call to 811.

811 will notify the right utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. At no charge, professional locators  will mark the locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint, or both. Depth of utility lines can  change over time because of storms and soil condition.

Customers should contact a private locator company to find lines not owned by a utility. Examples of  these include lines installed by a homeowner to heat a pool, light a garage or install a gas grill.

Safe digging tips

Always call 811 before you dig. It’s the law

Depth can be deceptive. Depth of utility lines can change over time with erosion, storms, floods,  soil condition, heaving in winter from frost, and changes to landscaping. 

What you don’t know can hurt you. Even if you’ve lived in your home for 30 years, things can  and do change in your yard.

Does it smell like rotten eggs? If you damage a natural gas line and notice a sulfur or rotten  egg-like smell, move quickly away from the area. Once safely away, call 911 first, then your gas  utility company to investigate and repair.

Hand digging. Before you can work near an underground utility line, you must first hand-dig to  expose the line and verify its location and depth.