One free call to 811 before digging prevents 99 percent of damages
MINNEAPOLIS - Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman have proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month.
Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy are partnering with the Common Ground Alliance, the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety, the governor's office, the mayors' offices and the Minneapolis and St. Paul fire departments to memorate National Safe Digging Month, which is dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices.
"Calling 811 before digging or excavating prevents 99 percent of damages to underground utilities nationally," said Joe Vortherms, division vice president of operations for CenterPoint Energy. "It is important that everyone digs 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. Excavate carefully."
Laura McCarten, regional vice president for Xcel Energy, said damaging or striking a single line can create a dangerous situation, cause injury, repair costs, fines and outages. "Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811 at least two working days in advance," McCarten said. "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 panies 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 electricity cables, natural gas pipes 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 pany 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. 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 ITIC Lite or download the app at www.gopherstateonecall.org
Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas pany with regulated operations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. Xcel Energy provides a prehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating panies. Xcel Energy is the largest electric utility in Minnesota, serving 1.2 million electricity customers in the state, and also serves over 440,000 natural gas customers in Minnesota. For more information, visit xcelenergy.