State of New Jersey
Department Of The Public Advocate
240 West State St.
P.O. Box  851  
Trenton, NJ 08625-0851
Phone: (609) 826-5090    Fax: (609) 984-4747


For Immediate Release: 
May 17, 2007
Public Advocate

For Further Information

Nancy Parello:

Robyn Roberts
(Rate Counsel)
Tel: 973-648-2290

Public Advocate Issues Consumer Advisory of New 8-1-1 Number To “Call Before Digging” To Prevent Damaging Underground Utility Lines

Newark, N.J.—New Jersey Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen issued an advisory today highlighting the launch this month of a new free 8-1-1 “Call Before You Dig” telephone number that consumers should call before beginning any small or large digging jobs to prevent damage to underground utility lines to their homes.

“Before digging up ground for a deck or even planting a tree, it’s critical for consumers to first dial 8-1-1 to get a free mark out of utility lines that can prevent damage to those lines and protect human life,” Chen said.

The new number, which was launched nationwide on May 1, was designated by the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate the confusion of multiple “Call Before you Dig” numbers across United States. When consumers or contractors call the number, they will be connected to the state’s damage prevention center, which contacts the appropriate utility for the caller’s area. The utility will then send a technician to the requested site to mark the underground lines. Previously, New Jersey operated a One-Call Center, and that number, 1-800-272-1000, will still be accessible to callers. However, the new 8-1-1 number streamlines the caller’s access.

New Jersey’s law requires that anyone planning to do any excavation, call for a free mark out of utility lines at least three business days before digging. As part of a public educational effort, the state proclaimed the month of May as “New Jersey Underground Damage Prevention Month” and joins other states in a campaign kicked off by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an association of individuals and organizations from every facet of the underground utility industry.

CGA notes that unfortunately current statistics on One-Call centers show that the majority of Americans are not using the service. The association’s recent study shows that while 46 percent of Americans are active diggers who have done or plan to do a digging project at home, only 33 percent of do-it-yourselfers plan on calling before they dig and they are taking a huge risk each time their shovel disturbs the dirt.

For more information on the 811 telephone number campaign, go to


The Division of Rate Counsel is a division within the Department of the Public Advocate and represents the interests of consumers of electric, natural gas, water/sewer telecommunications, cable TV service and insurance (residential, small business, commercial and industrial customers). Additional information on this and other utility matters can be found at the Division’s website at The Department of the Public Advocate website is