Every year on August 11 the United States recognizes 811 Day to promote safe digging. Across the US, dig laws within each state require operators, contractors, farmers, ranchers and landowners to contact the national 811 call centre before excavating or altering the elevation of their property.

Trans Mountain’s Pipeline Protection Team in Puget Sound District responds to incoming 811 notifications to maintain the integrity of and mitigate any damage to the Puget Sound Pipeline system. They also educate community stakeholders of Trans Mountain’s safe digging procedures and promote the 811 one-call service line. Using awareness and prevention strategies has allowed our team to promote community safety, prevent injuries, avoid financial losses and reputational and environmental damages associated with an incident. 

“It’s really simple: Before you plant trees, till the land or build a shed, you need to call 811 at least two or three business days before you start moving dirt,” says the team. 

“Even if you think you might be exempt under state dig laws or your project is ‘small and won’t affect anything’ it only takes a few minutes to contact 811. It’s not safe to assume the depth of anything underneath you. Erosion, previous landscaping and other factors affect the amount of ground cover more than people realize,”

The team is always on the go marking, inspecting, protecting, maintaining and reporting on the integrity of 69 miles (111 kms) of pipeline in the Puget Sound District running through Whatcom and Skagit counties. In 2019, they responded to over 600 notifications from the 811 call centre. Responding to the average 811 notification typically takes 1-2 days. Depending on the complexity of the request, it can take up to 10 days to process a proximity permit, which usually involves installing something of a permanent nature on the right-of-way.