Local view: Make the '811 promise' and call before you dig
Every three minutes, someone in the United States damages an underground utility line. That should be an eye-popping statistic no matter who you are. If you're a homeowner, it means a greater chance you could lose access to basic services. If you...
Every three minutes, someone in the United States damages an underground utility line.
That should be an eye-popping statistic no matter who you are. If you're a homeowner, it means a greater chance you could lose access to basic services. If you're an excavator, it means there's a greater chance your project could get tied up in costly delays and fines and could cause harm to you, someone on your work crew or the public. If you're a farmer, it means putting your farming and ranching operations at risk. If you're an emergency responder, it means potential danger for your community.
Most importantly, for all of us, it means you or someone you know could face devastating consequences due to an accident that could have been prevented. There's a simple solution: dialing 811, the national call-before-you-dig phone number.
Calling 811 is convenient and it's free. The service is paid for by utility companies to protect the public. All one needs to do is dial the number two to three business days before the start of a project and provide the location where the excavation will take place. Professional locators will be sent to the site to mark the approximate locations of underground utilities and pipelines with flags or spray paint. Once the lines are marked, the excavator can see where all the underground utilities are located and can safely work around them.
The 811 process is that simple, which should be a relief for anyone planning to move dirt.
Things get complicated underground. Multiple utility lines can crisscross an area. Erosion can leave pipelines just a few inches below ground. Even the markers along a right-of-way don't give the exact location of the pipelines below.
It's important to call 811 before every project that requires breaking the soil, whether you are a farmer preparing to plow, ditch or cultivate; a homeowner laying a patio, installing a mailbox or planting a tree; or a professional excavator or contractor. Even if you think you know what might be underground, make the call.
If you've hired someone to do the work, never assume he or she will have the utility lines marked. Always confirm the required one-call notification has been completed.
Saturday -- which is Aug. 11, or 8/11 -- is 811 Day in the United States and is a reminder of the importance of calling before excavating. Enbridge is proud to be proactively involved in ongoing industry efforts to educate the public on safe digging and excavation, and we ask for your help in raising awareness of 811. As a pipeline operator in your area, we rely on those who live near our pipelines to excavate safely and to encourage their family, friends and neighbors to do the same.
Make the "811 Promise" to always call before digging. Pledge to help keep underground utilities safe so everyone who lives, works or congregates near pipelines can be safe. Always "call before you dig."
Mark Willoughby is general manager of the Superior region for Enbridge.