Q: If there is no way to avoid digging near buried utilities, what is the best way to proceed with excavation?
A: Dig carefully. State laws generally prohibit the use of mechanized equipment (trencher, auger, excavator, etc.) within 18-24 inches of a marked utility, which is called the “tolerance zone.” If you must dig near the marks, use hand tools or vacuum excavation to expose the utility. After exposing the line, avoid using mechanized equipment within the same tolerance zone.