Danville area residents are being reminded to dial before they dig to avoid hitting underground communications, gas, electrical, sewer and water lines.
Danville Utilities and other utility companies are using the date of Aug. 11 – or 8/11 – to remind property owners to dial 811 at least three working days before excavation projects large or small.
Callers to 811 will be able to arrange for professional locators to come to their house or place of business to mark where utility lines run. The service is free.
The 811 number was established in 2005 by the Federal Communications Commission to provide an easy and free method for protecting underground utility lines. In May 2007, the Common Ground Alliance launched a national “Call Before You Dig” campaign to increase public awareness about the importance of using 811. Common Ground Alliance is a utilities industry association created to promote best practices in America’s vast underground infrastructure of pipelines, conduits, wires and cables.
The CGA reports an underground utility line is damaged during digging projects once every three minutes in the United States. Thirty-four percent of underground utility lines are damaged because the free phone call to 811 was never made, according to the CGA.
Jim Harr, interim director of utilities for Danville Utilities, said every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. “Even relatively minor projects such as installing a mailbox, putting up a new fence, building a deck or planting a tree can cause damage to an underground utility line and result in unnecessary and costly damage, service interruption and possible injury."
When calling 811, those planning any kind of excavation or digging are connected to Virginia 811, the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators then are sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint.
Utility locators have 48 hours beginning at 7 a.m. on the next working day after the call is placed to 811 to locate underground utility lines. In order to dig on a Saturday morning, the call to 811 needs to take place no later than 5 p.m. on a Tuesday. Weekends and holidays are not considered “working days.”
Harr said 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,” Harr said.
Visit www.call811.com or www.va811.com for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.