A Dual Zap: Call 811

I bet they wished they’d followed the Call 811 rule!

I live on lake, in the mountains. My lot, much like those of my neighbors, is narrow and deep, with lots of grade change from lake to back of the lots. Nearly two decades ago, I wanted to construct a pole building on the back of my property. In order to do so, I hired a highly experienced local excavation company.

In my neighborhood, there are no underground gas lines, and a profusion of electric power and telephone lines seemingly rule the sky. Much of this is due to the geology in our area – granite and lots of it. Makes digging a challenge.

Call Before You DigThe contractor brought in one of the biggest machines I have ever seen, in order to excavate and went at it. Not long after starting – all of my neighbors lost their telephone service. It turns out the contractor was so sure there could not be buried lines, he had not done the “call 811” for a locate. 435 homes were without phone service, while waiting for the lines to be repaired!

Now digging up buried utility lines may give you the shock of a lifetime. And, it could zap your wallet as well.

In many states the failure to use free “Call Before You Dig” services and unearthing gas or utility lines can amount to being faced with stiff penalties.

Having earthwork done for a building site, or digging holes for a new pole building? Remember to call 811 at least two business days before digging. It’s required by state laws and is intended to prevent injuries, property damage and outages.

Damaging a hazardous liquid or gas transmission pipeline can lead to fines in the thousands of dollars as well as a misdemeanor charge. Government officials want to send clear messages to people – this really is important and if the law is broken then there’s going to be some consequences.

Homeowners and professionals should know where buried utility lines are located before planting a tree, putting up a mailbox post, building a fence, or digging more than 12 inches deep in a yard or garden, experts say.

When someone will call 811, a utility representative will come out and locate and mark all utility lines in the ground.

Dig carefully around marked areas with a hand tool because buried electrical lines or natural gas pipes can be dangerously close to the surface. Accidental contact with a shovel or backhoe is risky and potentially fatal.

Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities had 80,629 locates performed on its underground lines last year, with 517 reports of dig-ins to lines.

While electric and natural gas distribution lines are buried an average depth of 3 feet, not all lines are. Telecommunications, for example, are notorious for having very shallow buries – sometimes only an inch or so deep.

Call 811 before you dig!

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