Call be­fore digging to head off ex­pen­sive prob­lems

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Safe Digging Month By Neil Cooney Neil Cooney is a Western New York na­tive who man­ages the op­er­a­tions of En­bridge pipelines in New York State.

Spring will soon be in the air and so will the thought of home pro­jects.

Last year the gov­er­nor pro­claimed ev­ery April as Safe Digging Month in New York as a way to re­mind every­one that state law re­quires them to call the toll-free num­ber be­fore start­ing any ex­ca­va­tion or digging project.

If you’re a home­owner, odds are you’ve taken on a do-it-your­self project like in­stalling a mail­box, plant­ing a tree or putting in a deck.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion Com­mon Ground Al­liance, half of Amer­i­cans are “ac­tive dig­gers” – mean­ing they have done, or are plan­ning to do, some type of digging project at home. How­ever, only a third call to get util­ity lines marked prior to ex­ca­vat­ing.

Why is this a prob­lem? An un­der­ground util­ity line is dam­aged dur­ing digging pro­jects once ev­ery three minutes in the United States. Hit­ting a pipe­line or un­der­ground util­ity may mean ex­pen­sive fines and re­pair costs and could also cause harm to you or oth­ers nearby.

In ad­di­tion to pipelines, “un­der­ground utilities” refers to the elec­tric­ity that pow­ers your home and pro­vides your house­hold with in­ter­net, ca­ble TV, nat­u­ral gas to heat your home and power gas ap­pli­ances and wa­ter and sewer lines.

Even if you think you know where all of these lines are lo­cated, digging with­out first hav­ing un­der­ground utilities marked is a risk that’s not worth tak­ing.

The good news? The so­lu­tion is as sim­ple as di­al­ing three dig­its – 811.

Re­search by Com­mon Ground Al­liance shows that call­ing 811 prior to digging re­duces the risk of dam­ag­ing un­der­ground utilities to less than 1 per­cent.

Whether you are a com­plet­ing a project in your own yard or ex­ca­vate for a liv­ing, the “Na­tional Call Be­fore You Dig” tele­phone num­ber ap­plies to you.

One free, sim­ple phone call to 811 makes it easy for the lo­cal one-call cen­ter to no­tify all ap­pro­pri­ate util­ity com­pa­nies of your in­tent to dig.

April is Na­tional Safe Digging Month and serves as an essential re­minder of the im­por­tance of call­ing 811 be­fore ev­ery digging project. Your lo­cal utilities are ac­tively in­volved in on­go­ing in­dus­try ef­forts to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on safe digging.

As a pipe­line op­er­a­tor in your area, we also rely on those of you who live near our pipelines to dig safely and share the safe digging mes­sage with oth­ers.

I en­cour­age you to visit www.digsafe­ or for more in­for­ma­tion about safe digging.

Al­ways call be­fore you dig. The safety of your fam­ily, friends and neigh­bors may de­pend on it.

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