NW Natural reminds residents, contractors and landscapers to call 811 before digging

Locate underground utility lines before starting outdoor projects and spring planting

Media contact: Elaina Medina, elaina.medina@nwnatural.com; 503-739-9902 


May 5, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. —  Spring is in the air and that means many Northwest residents are heading outdoors for home and garden projects, so NW Natural would like to remind residents, contractors and landscapers to call 811 to locate underground utilities at least two business days ahead of starting any project that involves digging. 

“It’s incredibly important to call 811 or use the free NW Natural safety app to have utility lines located before digging,” said Jaimie Lemke, NW Natural’s damage prevention supervisor. “It’s free, and it’s the law. It can also help prevent service interruption, thousands of dollars in damages, and the risk of injuries.” 

Here in the Northwest, NW Natural responds to more than 600 dig-ins or damages each year in its service territory, which are often caused by a third-party contractor or homeowner who didn’t call 811 before starting a project. 

NW Natural has a team of employees dedicated to educating contractors in such damage prevention efforts and has reduced damages by about 70% since 2006 when it began comprehensive efforts to address the issue. Last year NW Natural became the first Oregon-based utility to earn a Gold Shovel Stand Certification for its commitment to practicing and promoting safe excavation practices. 

A recent national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted by Common Ground Alliance, revealed 58% of American homeowners personally plan to complete a home improvement project involving digging in the next 12 months, and 49% of them, or approximately 34.9 million Americans, will unknowingly take a risk by not contacting 811 beforehand. 

The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub: 80%
  • Building a fence: 25%
  • Building a deck or patio: 21%
  • Installing a mailbox: 11%
  • Installing a pool: 3%
  • Something else: 19%

Safety reminders:

  • Report damages immediately: If while digging, you accidentally hit a gas line, report it immediately by calling 911 or NW Natural’s
    24-hour emergency line at 800-882-3377. No damage is too small to report, even a small dent could weaken a natural gas line.
  • Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately, then call us at 800-882-3377 and we will come over to check things out.

For more information, visit nwnatural.com/safety/call-before-you-dig.

About NW Natural
NW Natural is a local distribution company that currently provides natural gas service to approximately 2.5 million people in more than 140 communities through more than 785,000 meters in Oregon and Southwest Washington with one of the most modern pipeline systems in the nation. NW Natural consistently leads the industry with high J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction scores. NW Natural owns and operates 21 Bcf of underground gas storage capacity in Oregon. NW Natural, a part of Northwest Natural Holding Company, (NYSE: NWN) (NW Natural Holdings), is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and has been doing business for more than 160 years. NW Holdings owns NW Natural, NW Natural Renewables Holdings (NW Natural Renewables), NW Natural Water Company (NW Natural Water), and other business interests. We have a longstanding commitment to safety, environmental stewardship, and taking care of our employees and communities. Learn more in our latest ESG Report.

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