Czarny: Three important numbers to know when digging: 811
By Dave Czarny Guest columnist April 14, 2012 10:48PM
Updated: June 14, 2012 1:51AM
If you’re a homeowner, odds are you’ve taken on a do-it-yourself project like installing a mailbox, planting a tree or putting in 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.
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 and could also cause harm to you or others nearby.
The solution is as simple as dialing three digits — 811. Calling 811 prior to digging reduces the risk of damaging underground utilities to less than one percent.
Here’s how it works:
Call 811 at least two to three 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, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.
Many times, risky assumptions are made about what’s below and the depth at which it’s 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 are identified above ground, the pipeline or utility marker should never be used to reference the exact location.
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.
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.
Visit enbridgeUS.com or call811.com for more information about safe digging. Always call before you dig. The safety of your family, friends and neighbors may depend on it.
Area Supervisor of Manhattan Liquid Pipelines