April is Minnesota Safe Digging Month

Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman have proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month to increase awareness of safe digging practices and encourage people to call 811 before digging.  

Calling 811 before digging or excavating prevents 99 percent of damages to underground utilities nationally, according to CenterPoint Energy. As part of Safe Digging Month, CenterPoint is reminding everyone to dig with C.A.R.E.: Call 811 before your dig; allow at least two working days for the utility lines to be marked;  respect the marks, which means hand dig within 24-inches of the marks; and, excavate carefully. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting to ensure safety.

Since the 811 “Call Before You Dig” campaign was created in 2004, excavation damages have declined by roughly 40 percent. Minnesota homeowners and contractors who call 811 are connected to Gopher State One Call, the local center that notifies the appropriate utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Professional locators are sent to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with color-coded flags, spray paint or both. The depth of underground natural gas pipes, electricity cables and other 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 a utility line exists.

State law requires property owners to have underground lines located prior to any digging. This includes any lines previously located. Customers also need to make arrangements with a private locate company to locate lines not owned by a utility, such as a line installed by a homeowner to heat a pool or light a garage. Digging without locates can cause property damage, interrupt services, cause personal injury and even death if someone accidentally digs into underground utility lines.

Homeowners and professional excavators in Minnesota can visit call811.com for more information and to request the free locates. For a fast and easy way to enter your locate requests and for more information visit the Gopher State One Call website and look for E-Ticket or download the app at www.gopherstateonecall.org

Published Apr 2, 2013