Safe Digging Month Calls Attention To Importance Of Contacting JULIE Before You Dig

April marks Safe Digging Month. Established in 2008, this national observance reminds homeowners, landscapers, contractors, and professional excavators how crucial it is to have underground utility lines marked prior to starting any digging project.

Safe Digging Month


Did you know that, nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged every few minutes? This can cause outages to critical services like gas, electric, water, fiber optics, communications, and more. The majority of damage stems from someone striking a line while digging because they didn’t know where it was buried. Imagine knocking out power to your house or the block on the hottest summer day. Or causing an Internet interruption when your family and neighbors are working from home. In worst-case scenarios, you can injure yourself and even harm your family.

Underground utility line damages can easily be avoided if everyone contacts their local 811 Center. In Illinois, outside of Chicago, that’s JULIE. The non-profit organization acts as a notification service for safer digging, alerting member utility companies so they can come to your property and indicate the approximate location of buried lines. In fact, state law requires you contact JULIE before you dig if you’re planning an outdoor DIY project or your contractor does if you’ve hired a professional. Neglecting to do so may result in penalties for the contractor or expensive repair costs for you, the homeowner.

The fastest and easiest way to communicate with JULIE is to submit an online E-Request—a free, self-service option available anytime at—before breaking ground. Member utilities have two business days to respond to your locate request, so plan ahead. JULIE personnel do not perform locating services, rather member utility companies or their representatives will come out and mark your property with spray paint, flags or both. If you hope to start your project on the weekend, you must contact JULIE before 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Click here to submit an E-Request

Putting up a fence, installing a mailbox post, building a deck or patio, and planting trees are all examples of home improvement projects that require a notification to JULIE first. However, smaller tasks such as planting a garden or replacing a shrub also require you contact JULIE before you dig. Some utility lines may be buried just a few inches below the surface so you must submit a locate request regardless of the size of the excavation or the depth you’re digging…or even if you’ve dug in the same location before.

A recent national survey from the Common Ground Alliance, the nation’s preeminent source of underground utility line damage prevention data and information, found that 74 precent of homeowners across the country plan to dig on their property this year. Of those, more than 49.3 million will put themselves and their communities at risk by not contacting their local 811 Center before digging.

As Illinois’ FREE notification service to prevent underground utility line damages, JULIE is dedicated to keeping homeowners, landscapers, contractors, professional excavators…and the entire community…safe. If you’re one of the thousands of Illinoisans planning on planting, building, adding, or fixing anything outdoors—know what’s below. Contact JULIE before you dig and do your part to keep your family, your neighbors and yourself safe. The service is always free.

While we’re bringing attention to the importance protecting underground utility lines during Safe Digging Month in April, caution should be taken each time you put a shovel in the ground. Contact JULIE before you dig…every project, every time.

Click here for 5 important steps to safe digging
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