Enbridge encourages everyone to call 811 before diggingIf you’re a homeowner, odds are you’ve taken on a do-it-yourself project like installing a mailbox, planting a tree or building a deck.
By: By Mark Willoughby, Superior Telegram
If you’re a homeowner, odds are you’ve taken on a do-it-yourself project like installing a mailbox, planting a tree or building a deck.
According to a report by the national organization Common Ground Alliance, half of Americans are “active diggers” — meaning they have done, or are planning to do, some type of digging project at home. However, only a third call to get utility lines marked prior to excavating.
Why is this a problem? An underground utility line is damaged during digging projects once every three minutes in the United States. Hitting a pipeline or underground utility may mean expensive fines and repair costs. More importantly, it could also cause harm to you or others nearby.
In addition to pipelines, “underground utilities” refers to the electricity, Internet, cable TV, natural gas and water and sewer lines. Even if you think you know where all of these lines are located, digging without first having underground utilities marked is a risk that’s not worth taking.
The good news? The solution is as simple as dialing three digits — 811. Research by the Common Ground Alliance shows that calling 811 prior to digging reduces the risk of damaging underground utilities to less than one percent.
Whether you work on a project in your own yard or excavate for a living, the “National Call Before You Dig” telephone number applies to you. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for the local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Here’s how it works:
Call 811 at least 2-3 business days prior to digging to allow enough time for utility lines to be properly marked.
When you call 811, a representative from the one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
The local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, who will then send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.
Once lines have been properly marked, you can proceed with your work and carefully dig around the marked areas.
Many times, risky assumptions are made about buried utilities and the depth at which they are located. Here are a few more critical points to keep in mind:
Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811, whether it’s installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, laying a patio, or a full-scale professional excavation job.
Even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line exists. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces.
Never assume your contractor will make the call. Always ask and confirm that the notification has been completed.
Even though underground pipelines and utilities are periodically identified with above ground signs, the pipeline or utility signs should never be used to reference the exact location. The best way to know for sure is to make the call and get the exact location marked for your project.
Privately installed utilities, such as gas lamps, may not be located by utility companies. You may be responsible for hiring a professional locator for these lines.
Using 811 is an important step in protecting yourself, your family and your community. Striking an underground utility, including pipelines, could disrupt vital services to an entire neighborhood or lead to expensive fines and repair costs. Most importantly, digging without first calling 811 is dangerous.
April is National Safe Digging Month and serves as an essential reminder of the importance of calling 811 before every digging project. Enbridge is proud to be proactively involved in ongoing industry efforts to educate the public on safe digging.
As a pipeline operator in your area, we also rely on those of you who live near our pipelines to dig safely and share the safe digging message with others.
I encourage you to visit enbridgeUS.com or call811.com for more information about safe digging. You can also join me and hundreds of other Americans in pledging to call 811 at the811promise.com.
Always call before you dig. The safety of your family, friends and neighbors may depend on it.
Mark Willoughby is the general manager in the Superior region for Enbridge.