Residents reminded to call 811 before digging as spring outdoor projects begin

April 22, 2021 | 12:06 am

Updated April 22, 2021 | 12:32 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Whether beginning outdoor projects, landscaping, or even planting trees to celebrate Earth Day, residents and business owners should remember to call 811 and have underground utility lines marked before digging.

“Trees bring environmental savings and improve air quality while offering a shield from stifling summer temperatures,” said Mark Martin, Atmos Energy vice president of public affairs. “We encourage the enhancement of parks and green spaces for our communities to enjoy and advise this simple step of calling 811.”

Call 811 is a free service that is mandated by law. Everyone who calls 811 is connected to a local notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags, or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas. 

Utility lines may be only a few inches from the surface for a variety of reasons such as erosion, prior excavation, and uneven surfaces. Calling 811 helps prevent volunteers, contractors, and do-it-yourself diggers from damaging an underground utility line. 

It is also recommended to clear the area around natural gas meters from trash or debris to help cleanup crews see above-ground infrastructure and avoid striking any natural gas facilities.

Since 2008, April has been designated National Safe Digging Month to encourage safe digging practices for any project.

“Spring provides a time when many people begin outdoor projects, including landscaping, and we want you and your family to take these important safety steps,” said Kevin Dobbs, Atmos Energy president of Kentucky/Mid-States division. “National Safe Digging Month reminds us that calling 81l before any digging project is the safest way to avoid damaging your underground utility lines, which could lead to an inconvenient outage.”

A recent survey revealed that 19.5 million U.S. homeowners plan to dig this year for projects like gardening, installing a mailbox, and building a fence or deck. However, only an estimated 63 percent of homeowners use the free Call 811 service before starting an excavation project.

Atmos encourages homeowners to take the following steps before any type of digging begins:

  • Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with a property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked. 
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Do not allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit call811.com for complete info.

April 22, 2021 | 12:06 am

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