Summer Safe Digging Reminders

The busy digging season is underway! Montana 811 (MT811) reminds everyone of these important points as they consider starting any outdoor digging projects:

1. Chances are, you’ve heard the MT811 “Tap, Click, or Call Before You Dig” message and already know that preventing underground utility damage is free and easy. Did you also know that it’s the law?

The Montana Excavation Law, Montana Code Annotated Section 69-4-503, states “Before beginning an excavation, the excavator shall notify, through a notification center, all owners of underground facilities in the area of the proposed excavation.”

For full text versions of the law, click here:

2. Before you contact MT811, remember to outline your proposed excavation area with white paint or flags. By doing so, you decrease your chances of delayed locates and potential errors. When the utility companies mark their lines, you have the peace of mind of knowing if your project plan conflicts with the location of buried lines.

3. You may contact MT811 up to 10 days in advance of your project start date. Your ticket will remain valid for 30 days after the stated start time. After that time passes, you must contact MT811 to update your ticket and get lines remarked.

4. Private facilities are NOT marked when you contact MT811. Unless the owner of the facilities participates as a member of MT811, privately or customer-owned facilities will not be notified or marked. These types of facilities can be found everywhere. Examples include private water systems, data communication lines, underground sprinkler systems, gas or propane distribution lines, and many others. Protect yourself and invest some time to determine if there are private utility lines buried in the area of excavation. If so, you may have to contact a private locator to get them marked.

5. File a locate request online or call MT811 at least two business days in advance, excluding weekends or holidays, before digging. Always check the accuracy and completeness of your description. Make sure to include the specific type of excavating you are doing on your request.

Homeowners and excavators can file online locate requests 24/7 via ITIC on your phone/computer here:

You can also call us at 811 or 800-424-5555 to file a locate request in all of Montana except for the Flathead and Lincoln counties. (Important Note: There is no hold time when you file a ticket online!)

For locates in the Flathead and Lincoln counties, call 811, 406-755-8344, or 800-551-8344.

6. Always check the status of the underground utility markings before beginning work. Did you know that it’s easy to check the status of your ticket before you excavate? Look for your ticket by clicking the grey “Search and Status” button on the MT811 website home page here: 

7. Respect the marks. Do your best to maintain the paint lines and flags left by locators. Stop excavating and contact MT811 if you can no longer see the marks because they are obscured or destroyed by job site traffic, weather, or other interferences.

8. Be mindful of the tolerance zone when beginning excavation. Hand dig 18” from both sides of the marked utility (see graphic below).

​9. Use the proper excavating tools and techniques. This can make all the difference when completing your project. Examples include choosing shovels with durable fiberglass handles and keeping the shovel head perpendicular to the ground when digging.

10. Feel free to contact us with any questions, suggestions, or input you may have!

You can contact Clint Kalfell, the Montana Representative, directly at: 406-442-3070 or

With these tips in mind, you are set for a successful excavating season. As always, stay safe and contact MT811 before you plan to dig!