Safe Digging Month highlighting importance of 811
RAPID CITY S.D. – With a simple call. You could save yourself and your neighborhood a lot of trouble later on.
“Even if you are just putting in a mailbox, planting a tree, building a deck,” Montana-Dakota Utilities Spokesperson Mark Hanson said. “It’s important to know where those are located so that as you are digging, you don’t accidentally hit one of those lines.”
For any questions about an area for digging, calling 811 is the best and lawful thing to do. Officials from a utility company will come out and mark underground communication and electrical lines.
If any of those markings are where your project is planned, you’ll have to modify your plans.
Digging near important underground lines should be approached with caution, with officials recommending breaking ground by hand with a shovel if staying relatively close to the surface.
“The depth can vary on all of these utilities,” Hanson explained. “Some of them can change over time with soil erosion. They may be down two feet, or they could be down just a few inches depending on what’s happened over the course of time.”
According to Hanson, a national survey of people doing projects in the spring and summer months reported nearly half had no plans to call 811 before starting. Not calling the number can result in fines, along with extensive damage to homes and/or neighborhoods if major lines are hit.
Along with the responsibility of paying for any damage caused.
In a worst-case scenario, injury or even death can result from digging into electrical lines.
“They all point to how important it is to have that call made to 811 to get lines marked so you have a pretty good idea that that is where these utilities are located and if your project’s going to be close to that area, to be really careful digging,” said Hanson.