Zero Accidents

Excavating the Right Way

By Jim Ruggiero, CSHS, CHST • February 19, 2020 • 2 MIN READ

Plan on doing some excavating or demolition? Maybe you want to build a deck, renovate the ground level, or of course, build a brand new building. Before doing any of this type of work, you need to “know what’s below.” In other words, there may be utility lines buried underground that you don’t know about. Before you dig, it’s important to find out where those lines run. You don’t want to run into a sewer line or a gas line while digging. You could injure yourself, damage property, and cause disruption of service.

Delaware’s Underground Utility Damage Prevention and Safety Act requires homeowners put in an excavation or demolition request at least 48 hours prior to work. The utility owners will then come out to locate and mark your site before you begin to ensure all is clear. Once those marks are made, you have 15 business days to start. Those marks become invalid after that time.

Curious what those marked colors mean? White indicates the proposed excavation. But the others mark specific utilities:

Blue – Potable water.

Green – Sewers and drain lines.

Orange – Communication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit.

Pink – Temporary survey markings

Purple – Reclaimed water, irrigation, and slurry lines.

Red – Electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables.

Yellow – Gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or gaseous materials.

The best way to make sure you dig safely is to contact Miss Utility. It’s a notification center that you can call or put in an online request for the demolition or excavation you want to perform. If you don’t follow the law, there are penalties. There are actual repair costs and civil penalties up to $2,500 per violation and up to three times the actual repair cost of the damaged utilities. Plus punitive damages up to $10,000 per incident.

Need to contact Miss Utility? Find that information below: