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Call 811 Before You Dig

Watch this video to learn more about calling 811.

You might be surprised how much is going on underground. Gas, electric and other utility lines are just about everywhere. So for your own protection, state law requires you to call at least two working days before you start digging - whether you’re rototilling in your backyard or undertaking some serious excavation work.

You have a legal and financial responsibility for damage to utility lines so let's work together and keep things safe.

When to call

Call the national 811 Call Before You Dig number or visit one of the websites listed below two working days before you dig or excavate for the location of underground gas and electric lines. There will also be other utilities locating their facilities such as telephone, cable, etc.

Refer to the websites below for more information on rules and regulations.

Who to call before you dig

State County Nation Wide
One Call Number
Local Area
Toll Free Number
Oregon All counties 811 800-332-2344
Washington All counties 811 800-424-5555
Idaho Benewah 811 800-398-3285
Bonner 811 800-626-4950
Boundary 811 800-626-4950
Clearwater 811 800-342-1585
Idaho 811 800-342-1585
Kootenai 811 800-428-4950
Latah 811 800-342-1585
Lewis 811 800-342-1585
Nezperce 811 800-342-1585
Shoshone 811 800-398-3285

Whichever method you choose initiates a request for someone to visit your work site — within two working days — to mark the ground above utility lines, including our gas and electric facilities. That way, you won't inadvertently hit a line while you're digging.

Utility line color coding
The color of the paint, stake or other marker indicates what's below:
Proposed Excavation
Temporary Survey Markings
Gas / Oil
Communications / Cable TV
Reclaimed Water

What you need to know

  • To assist locaters, you should mark the dig area with white paint or stakes.
  • If you are a homeowner hiring an excavator, the excavator is required to request the locates.
  • Don’t move or alter the marks until the facilities are exposed.
  • Once locates have been marked, the length of time they are good for varies by state. 811 will provide detailed information for your state.
  • When digging within two feet of the marked area, only use small hand tools such as a garden trowel to carefully expose the utility line. Keep in mind that utility installation is not the same for all utilities and requirements have changed through the years. Not all utilities are installed with protective casings and can be vulnerable to damage by tools as simple as a shovel. Always proceed with caution when digging around utility lines.
  • Exposed gas pipelines need to be properly supported and protected from damage so they don’t break or rupture. You can use secure nylon straps, wood shoring, rope or other means that don’t harm the pipes.
  • You’ll need to use acceptable backfill material and proper compaction to avoid damage to the pipes. Since sharp rocks or gravel can damage the pipes, you should use sand or rock-free dirt.
  • If you expose gas or electric lines that haven’t been marked, or damage a line, stop excavating and call Avista Utilities immediately at 1-800-227-9187.
  • Property owners are responsible for locating any non-utility facilities (such as sprinkler systems). Contact 811 for a list of private locators that will provide this service for a fee.

If you smell natural gas...

Because natural gas is lighter than air, it becomes combustible when mixed with air and exposed to an ignition source. That’s why we add an odorant that smells like rotten eggs so you’ll know right away if there’s a problem.

Any time you smell or hear a gas leak, take these precautions:

  • Don’t smoke, light matches, turn your electrical switches on or off, use the telephone or do anything else that might create a spark.
  • Evacuate everyone in the area, and keep others away.
  • Call Avista Utilities at (800) 227-9187.

If you damage natural gas lines:

Even if gas isn’t leaking, we need to inspect the lines. Call Avista Utilities at (800) 227-9187 as soon as possible.

If you’re building:

Never build decks or structures over Avista’s pipelines or meters. Doing so runs a serious safety risk, and prevents Avista from servicing the infrastructure that serves you.

We may be able to relocate our equipment to accommodate your project, but you could be responsible for the associated costs. Call us at (800) 227-9187 to learn more.

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