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National 8-1-1 Day highlights the importance of contacting VA811 before starting any digging project

Are you digging this summer?

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Aug. 11, 2022 – Summertime is here and for many homeowners, that means starting home improvement projects and digging in the dirt. Tree planting and fence or deck installation are just a few of the projects that take place at home, while professional excavators and contractors are busy with hectic outdoor construction schedules.

Unfortunately, these digging projects can hit and damage underground utility lines.

Aug. 11 is National 8-1-1 Day, and Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) reminds residents and professional excavators across the region that the date serves as an important cue to always contact VA811 before starting any outdoor digging project.

(WATCH VNG’s safe-digging message)

“Safety for our team members, customers and community is our number one priority at Virginia Natural Gas,” said Rus Hayslett, vice president of Operations. “Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, inconvenient service disruptions and costly repairs. Given that summer is a peak time to work on home improvements, it’s important to remind residents to contact VA811 before starting any digging or excavation project.”

Contacting VA811 before digging is the easiest way to avoid damaging buried utilities. However, in a national survey conducted by the Common Ground Alliance, a national nonprofit organization working to protect underground utility lines, 49% of those surveyed, or approximately 34.9 million Americans, will take a risk by not contacting 811 before starting home improvement projects that involve digging.

“Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants contacting 811 by phone or online,” added Hayslett. It’s a free call and it’s the law.”

Whether a homeowner with a shovel or a professional excavator with an earthmover, Virginia state law requires a call to 811 at least three business days before starting any digging project. When homeowners and contractors connect with Virginia 811, it notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent – for free – to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.

Virginia Natural Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with CARE:

  • Call or Click Before You DigBefore starting any outdoor digging project, customers should dial 811 or visit at least three days in advance to request to have underground utility lines marked. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free. 
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting Virginia 811, wait for underground utility lines to be marked before digging (approximately three-working days). Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow. 
  • Respect the MarksOnly use hand-digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig near location markers.
  • Excavate CarefullyMake sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact Virginia 811 to have the lines remarked.

If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated when natural gas is present, call 911 or the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or equipment that might cause a spark or create an open flame.

Virginia Natural Gas is also partnering with the National Excavator Initiative (NEI) to help educate homeowners and excavators alike about the importance of contacting Virginia 811 before putting a shovel in the ground. To help launch the program, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame, and his alter ego, “micro” Mike Rowe, are joining the NEI to increase recognition of the importance of contacting VA811 before you dig to protect the more than seven million miles of critical underground infrastructure.

Watch and listen for educational announcements featuring Mike Rowe this summer as he creatively illustrates the consequences of not contacting 811 before digging! 

Learn more about natural gas safety at

About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the Year five times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and a Top Workplaces in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit and connect with the company on FacebookTwitterInstagram, LinkedIn and Nextdoor.

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Rick DelaHaya
o: 757.616.7510 | c: 757.323.7366 | www.virginianaturalgas/pressroom