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Learn Who You Should Call Before Starting Your Home Improvement Projects

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An omnibus survey conducted by Common Ground Alliance (CGA) in March 2022 found that 49% of homeowners who planned to dig this year did not intend to contact 811 to have underground utility lines marked beforehand. Striking a single utility line can cause injury, repair costs, inconvenient outages and fines. Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first contacting 811.

Contacting 811 by phone or online connects homeowners and contractors to their local 811 center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies. Then you must wait the required amount of time – usually a few days, depending on the state – for utilities to send out professional locators to visit the dig site and mark the locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.


  • Damages to underground utilities cause an estimated $30 billion in societal costs each year
  • More than 385,000 damages to underground utilities were reported in 2020 alone
  • An estimated 34.9 million Americans will put themselves and their community at risk by digging without contacting 811 first

Sarah Magruder Lyle, President and CEO of CGA, discusses the importance of contacting 811 before digging underground as well as the dangers of striking a utility line and the costs of these damages.

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MORE ABOUT SARAH MAGRUDER LYLE Sarah Magruder Lyle is President & CEO of Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organization dedicated to protecting underground utility assets and people who work and live near them. She has more than 20 years of experience in the energy, infrastructure and utilities industries. Magruder Lyle focuses on protecting vital underground infrastructure from costly damages and ensuring the safety of those on the jobsite and the communities that depend on these critical assets. With her political and policy experience, including her tenure as the U.S. Department of Energy’s White House Liaison and a senior advisor in the Office of Policy and International Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, she has a unique understanding of the effective strategies necessary to enforce damage prevention practices in complex industries, including natural gas. Under her leadership, CGA has built strong partnerships across the organization’s 16 stakeholder groups, developed strategies to educate about the importance of safe digging, encouraged the next generation of damage prevention practices and technologies, and implemented programs to reduce damages to underground infrastructure.

Produced for: Common Ground Alliance (CGA)