Editorial - Do you call before you dig?It happens too frequently throughout the summer: Somebody who is digging underground hits a gas line. We hear the calls to repair broken gas lines on the scanner on a regular basis and it causes us to wonder if these incidents would have happened if homeowners and contractors had remembered to follow Minnesota’s “call before you dig” law.
It happens too frequently throughout the summer: Somebody who is digging underground hits a gas line.
We hear the calls to repair broken gas lines on the scanner on a regular basis and it causes us to wonder if these incidents would have happened if homeowners and contractors had remembered to follow Minnesota’s “call before you dig” law. Minnesota Statute Chapter 216D is designed to protect underground utilities and the public.
The problem is bigger than you may think. Digging activity damages a buried utility line every three minutes in the U.S. The sad part: One-third of incidents are caused because a free call wasn’t made to 811 to notify the local call-before-you-dig center, according to Common Ground Alliance statistics.
The law takes on added importance right now. according to CenterPoint Energy, the warmer weather has led to an increase in digging projects, resulting in more damages to underground natural gas lines compared to last year.
CenterPoint Energy reminds homeowners and contractors that one free call to 811 before digging can prevent injuries, property damage, service disruption and possibly costly fines for causing damage to buried d infrastructure.
“To date, we have had an increase of more than 50 percent in damages from excavators working on construction projects as well as homeowners who have dug into a natural gas line in their own yards,” said Kris Tande, supervisor of damage prevention for CenterPoint Energy. “Each year, more than 150,000 underground utility lines are struck in the United States and approximately one third of the damages occurred from failure to call 811 prior to excavation.”
CenterPoint boiled down its digging advice to the acronym, CARE:
Call 811 before your dig.
Allow at least 48 business hours for the utility lines to be marked.
Respect the marks — hand dig within 24-inches of the marks.
Excavate carefully. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. So whether it’s a small project like planting trees or shrubs, or hiring a professional for a special outdoor project, smart digging means calling 811 before each job.
Since the 811 “Call Before You Dig” campaign was created in 2004, there has been a 58 percent reduction in excavation damages. Homeowners and professional excavators in Minnesota can make their requests on the Gopher State One Call website. Gopher State One Call, a non-profit organization, is the one-call notification system established to inform all Minnesota underground facility operators of intended excavation.
Learn more and promise to always call 811 before digging by visiting the 811 promise.