811 Before You Dig!

Safe digging is everyone's responsibility. But when someone decides to take shortcuts, weekend projects can lead to Internet and cable outages, injuries and sometimes worse. That's why it's so important (actually, it's law) to have buried utilities in your easement, right of way and permitted use areas located and marked before you dig.

IMPORTANT: Sunshine 811 does not locate or mark underground utilities. This is done by utility companies or their locators.  If you're new to this service, please watch the video below.

This service is free for your safety...your family's safety...your neighborhood's safety.


Prepare your dig site

If you’re digging in a small portion of your yard, outline it with white paint. This tells the person who is going to mark out your project exactly where you will be digging. This lets them move quickly to the next dig site with little delay.

Prepare information for 811

Have the information below prepared before making the request:

  • Contact information including contact name, telephone numbers and email address.

  • County and city

  • Street address where you will be digging

  • Name of nearest intersecting street

  • Date and time digging is scheduled to begin

  • Number of days you'll be digging

  • Detailed description of where on property the digging will take place

  • Type of work being done (e.g. fence install, landscaping, irrigation install, etc.)

  • Type of equipment to be used

  • Special instructions

Notify 811

Notify 811 by phone or complete an online request two full business days before you want to dig. When you have provided all information, you will get a ticket number. If you provide a valid email, we'll send you a copy. Review all information to make sure it's accurate and keep it for your records. 

Make sure all utilities have responded by checking the Positive Response System

Utility companies let you know through a positive response code whether your dig site is clear/no conflict, marked, or unmarked and why. It’s important to check these responses before the two full business days pass in case the utility has left instructions for you. The easiest way to check is click here and enter your ticket number and phone number.

Compare the responses to what you see in your yard, to ensure that everything is accurate.

NOTE: Most cities, counties and utility companies do not locate private utilities. These include water and sewer lines from the meter to the house and lines running from the home to an outside building.

Where can I dig?

The flags and paint show you the approximate location of underground utilties and some are buried just inches from the surface. If those marks run through your project area, take extra precautions when digging. You may even want to consider moving your project. Each buried utility also has a 24-inch tolerance zone around its outer edge. The safest thing to do is hand dig to expose the utility to avoid damaging it with mechanized equipment. 



Did you hire someone to do the work?

The person or company doing the actual digging must get the locate ticket to ensure that the proper depths and equipment types used are included.
[See s.556.195(13)]

Life saving marks


Flags like those above are placed in yards when someone is digging near or within the property. They mark the approximate location of buried utility lines. Someone digging near gas, electric, fiber and other lines relies on those flags to stay safe! DO NOT pull them up or remove and try to replace them. It violates Florida law to destroy any valid markings, s.556.107(3).

What do the colors mean?

Utilities are marked according to APWA Uniform Color Codes. The chart below shows which utility type each color represents.

Don't make these dangerous assumptions

I know where all the utilities are located. Some utilities may have been run before your development was even in the planning stage. Or, something was buried deeply long ago, but recent grading or erosion has put the line close to the surface. It's not always what you think.

I don't have (you fill in the blank) utility service, so I don't have those buried lines in my yard. Some yards have been known to have cable lines servicing an entire neighborhood, even when the property owner doesn’t have cable. And, gas lines can run through easements on their journey to another neighborhood, while not servicing yours.

I'm just pulling up a plant or tree. When a plant matures, it's roots grow beyond the plant's or tree's canopy, sometimes several feet. As those roots expand, they can grow into and around utility lines. Forcefully pulling the plant out could pull out services.

These are real situations and it's why 811 exists. Our service is free and it's the law to have underground utility lines, pipes and cables located before you do any digging in a utility owner's right of way, easement or permitted use area.

More questions?

Visit our Learning Center.