SoCalGas Raises 30-Foot Giant Shovel at OC Fair for National 811 Day on August 11 to Remind Residents to Call 811 Before Digging

Visitors who post a photo with the giant shovel on Facebook, using #bigshovel, on Aug. 11 will earn the chance to win $811

Aug 9, 2018

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of upcoming National 811 Day on Aug. 11, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) raised its 30-foot-tall giant shovel at the OC Fair, where it will remain through Sun., Aug. 12 to bring awareness to the importance of contacting 811 to have utility lines marked by a professional before digging. Designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 811 is the national phone number that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with a local call center that then sends professional utility technicians to mark the location of utility lines.

Visitors who post a photo with the giant shovel on Facebook, using #bigshovel, on Aug. 11 will earn the chance to win $811.

According to data collected by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an underground utility line is damaged once every 6 minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. In 2017, SoCalGas recorded nearly 3,000 cases of damage to underground infrastructure caused by residents and contractors who did not call 811 prior to digging. Data shows, however, that when customers call 811 before digging, the likelihood of hitting a utility line is decreased by 99 percent. In 2017, approximately 15 percent of all accidental line strikes occurred in Orange County, the most of any region in SoCalGas' service territory.

"Across SoCalGas' service territory, about 60 percent of pipeline damage is due to digging by homeowners, contractors, and excavators who did not call 811 before they started digging," said Rodger Schwecke, SoCalGas senior vice president of gas transmission, storage, and engineering. "We hope that by having our giant shovel here at the OC Fair customers are reminded that every digging project – no matter how big or small – warrants a call to 811, and since it's a free service, there is no reason not to call."

In addition to providing safety-related information and a free reusable canvas tote bag to visitors who stop by SoCalGas' booth, the utility is holding a photo contest on Aug. 11 for SoCalGas customers who post a photo of themselves with the giant shovel to Facebook, using #bigshovel. Contestants will earn a ticket to be entered into a raffle for the chance to win an $811 Visa Gift Card. The winning ticket will be drawn at 8:11 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 11 by Lieutenant Pat Rich from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Photos of the 30-foot giant shovel at the OC Fair are available here.

Striking an underground utility line can result in serious injury and disrupt vital services, like natural gas, water, or electric service, to an entire neighborhood or community. To prevent such events from happening, SoCalGas encourages customers to take the following steps when planning any digging project this spring:

  • Mark out your proposed work area in white (paint, chalk, flour, flags, etc.).
  • Call 811 or submit an online location request to Underground Service Alert at least two working days prior to when you'll start digging.
  • Wait to hear from us. We'll either come mark our natural gas lines, indicating pipe material and diameter, or let you know that the area is clear.
  • Remember that SoCalGas uses yellow paint to mark its lines.
  • If you need to dig within 24 inches of a marked utility line, use only hand tools to carefully expose the exact locations of the line before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • Report any pipe damage – no matter how big or how small – by calling us immediately at 1-800-427-2200.

Raising the community's awareness of public safety issues, like practicing safe digging, is just one way SoCalGas works hard to keep its customers safe. From 2011-2016, SoCalGas invested nearly $6 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system, and SoCalGas bills continue to be among the lowest in the nation. Natural gas continues to rank among the most affordable sources of energy. More than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes, or other uses.

About SoCalGas
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 24,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region's clean energy future. The company is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook


About Southern California Gas Co.: Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 145 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

SOURCE Southern California Gas Company

For further information: Fiorella Canedo, Office of Media & Public Information, Desk (213) 244-4162, Mobile (213) 276-9582,