The Importance of Calling 811 Before You Dig |
Call 811 before you dig to find out about underground lines you may disturb.

Embarking on a home renovation, like building a fence or planting a tree? You’ve got everything set, from the blueprint to the tools. But hang on. One crucial step might be missing: Did you dial 811?

Understanding 811’s Purpose

811 isn’t just any number; it’s your national lifeline to prevent potential hazards. By calling, you ensure you won’t inadvertently disrupt a public utility line — be it electricity, water, sewage, or cables. Here in the Ruidoso area and around the state, your call connects to New Mexico 811, where representatives will gather details about your intended task.

Why Dial 811?

By reaching out to 811 or visiting their website a couple of workdays prior to starting, you’re ensuring a smoother process. This service facilitates communication with local utilities, prompting them to demarcate lines in your intended work zone. Thus, you avert the risks of harming utility lines, resulting in damages or injuries. Sometimes, learning about these lines may even necessitate shifting your project.

The Procedure

Ring them up or use the online portal, ideally two business days (excluding the day you input details and weekends) before your digging adventure. Share details and your location. This data is submitted to relevant utility firms. In turn, they’ll dispatch specialists who, within two days, will label the utility lines using flags or paint. You’ll receive a list of marked utilities for cross-checking.

Ideal Timing?

Thinking of kickstarting your project on a Saturday? Ring them up by Wednesday latest. This ensures utility firms have Thursday and Friday to dispatch their experts. It’s always a good idea to give them an additional day if your project is pre-planned.

Call 811 to find out about underground lines.


These utility organizations pinpoint the lines their services control. They won’t identify private lines, typically those running from the meter to a residence or lines extended by homeowners to external structures. The onus to spot these lies with the homeowner.

Safe Distances

Avoid mechanized digging within 18 inches from the indicated lines. For proximity closer than 18 inches, opt for hand tools or vacuum excavation. If necessary, contemplate relocating your project.

Who Should Use This Service?

It’s not exclusive to homeowners. Both homeowners and excavation contractors are legally obligated to consult 811 pre-dig. This includes varied tasks, be it a simple hole for a post, tree planting, driveway construction, or even a pool installation — especially if you’re using mechanized digging tools.

Potential Consequences

Breach a utility line, and you’re looking at service interruptions, repair costs, or worse, severe injuries or fatalities. Mitigate such risks; always dial 811 first.

Any Associated Fees?

Zero. This is a complimentary service, designed to mitigate accidents and damages. Make the call, detail your task, and steer clear of the marked zones. It’s that straightforward! Learn more here.


This story sponsored by ZIA NATURAL GAS COMPANY


Zia Natural Gas Company logo, a partner with NM 811

Zia Natural Gas Company delivers natural gas, a clean-burning and affordable source of energy, to homes and businesses

in Lea, Eddy, Lincoln, Doña Ana and Colfax counties.

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