Free services aims to protect homeowners from damaging underground utilities

Call 811 from any phone in Wisconsin before you dig
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:50 AM CDT
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(WSAW) - If the three-day weekend has you thinking you’ll tackle some yard projects, you may want to hit pause until you know what’s below your lawn.

Diggers Hotline is a free service that helps property owners know exactly what’s below their yard before they begin major and minor landscaping projects.

“Three working days before you start your project, you have to contact Diggers Hotline. You can call us by dialing 811 from any phone in Wisconsin, or you can go to our website at diggershotline.com. We tried to make that process easy for homeowners who don’t do this every day. So you can fill out some information online. And if we have any questions about that, we’ll contact you,” explained Chad Krueger from Diggers Hotline.

He said no project is too small to begin without calling Diggers Hotline.

“I think a lot of people when they think about Diggers Hotline, think about big excavation projects, big construction projects, backhoes, and professionals. But it is also is for homeowners who are digging a garden in their backyard or putting up a tree, or a deck or any home projects around the yard,” said Krueger.

Once someone calls, Diggers Hotline passes that information on to the utilities. The utilities will send one of their representatives to that job site. They’re going to mark where utilities are buried with paint or flags.

Krueger said even if you’ve lived at your home for many years, it’s still important to give them a call.

“Different things can happen over time. Maybe the line shifts, maybe erosion, maybe the grade of the landscape has changed. Maybe something was installed at a very shallow depth. It’s very important to call before any project, even if you think you know where everything is, the state law requires it,” said Krueger.

In addition to disrupting or damaging a utility, a homeowner is putting themselves at risk.

“If you put a shovel through an electric line, that’s a bad day, right? If you damage a natural gas line and natural gas is escaping into the atmosphere, you’re putting your whole neighborhood at risk. If you put a shovel through a communications line, like an internet cable, a lot of us rely on internet for just about everything we’re doing at home. But then there’s also paying for the repairs, paying the utilities to repair these lines is going to get very expensive pretty quickly,” he explained.

He said Diggers Hotline’s goal is to protect the utilities and the people working near them.