Always remember to call 811 before digging
August 13. 2014 6:00AM
Although Aug. 11 has now passed, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board hope that date – 8/11 – will serve as a reminder for residents to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked.
According to the Common Ground Alliance, an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.
“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairperson Gary Hanson. “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried in your area.”
A call to 811 is required at least 48 hours prior to all digging projects, excluding weekends and holidays. The call is free and sets into motion a series of activities designed to preserve excavator safety and infrastructure integrity.
Erin Hayes, South Dakota One Call Board chairman and director of corporate construction for Midcontinent Communications, described the locate request process: “When an excavator calls 811, our trained call center representatives will contact the respective utilities who will dispatch personnel to mark their underground facilities at the dig site. Only after that has occurred can an excavator proceed with digging,” she explained.
The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. After utility operators have marked existing underground utilities, excavators are encouraged to dig with care.
Fair-goers visiting the PUC booth at the Brown County Fair, Aug. 12-17, in Aberdeen and the South Dakota State Fair, Aug. 28-Sept. 1, in Huron will have the opportunity to make the "811 Promise" and win prizes.
Visit www.SDOneCall.com for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.