Football season is here! Time to enjoy Sunday bar-b-ques and Monday night chicken wings, even if pigskin isn’t your thing. While you’re sprucing up the home and yard for the watch parties, be sure not to get hit with a “penalty” when planting a tree, building a fence or setting up an irrigation system. Before you start the work, call 811 to have underground utility lines located.
There is no substitute for playing it safe. Follow the play book to avoid an accident that could lead to a fine of up to $2,500, property damage, serious injury or even death. All you have to do is call 811 at least two-business days (excluding weekends and holidays) before you begin a project. It’s not only the smart thing to do, it’s the law!
Last year, we received a total of 122,482 requests from homeowners and contractors to have underground lines located. So, the vast majority are following the law. But, not everyone calls for this free service. As a result, CPS Energy had a total of 329 underground gas line hits by homeowners and contractors. The total damages amounted to $420,847, which our customers ultimately pay.
Types of incidents in 2014:
One call does it all! When you call 811, a coordinated effort with local utilities is initiated to locate underground electric, natural gas, water, communication and other lines. Each underground service is identified with a corresponding flag placed in the area of the buried lines.
Although these services are initially buried deep enough to help minimize contact, over time the ground not only shifts but erodes, bringing buried lines closer to the surface. When lines are located, they’re marked for horizontal location and not necessarily depth. That’s why it’s best to avoid using mechanized equipment within the tolerance zone, which is 18 inches on either side of the marked line.
So who should call 811 to have lines located? If you have a contractor working on your property and the work involves digging, they should call to have the lines located and marked before starting the project. We advise discussing line locates during the hiring process. Personally, I would not leave it up to chance. The homeowner could be liable for any damages caused to underground infrastructure should the contractor decide to “disappear.” Take the initiative and call 811 yourself.
As you prepare to hit that “honey-do” list, make calling 811 part of your planning. It’s a great excuse to wait at least 48 hours before getting to work. Plus, you don’t want to be the neighbor that hits a vital underground line that could lead to someone’s football viewing party “time-out.”