Know the ground rules: Call 811 before digging

Know the ground rules: Call 811 before digging

Spring is finally here!

With the snow melted and the ground ready for planting, eager homeowners are gearing up to start those outdoor digging projects.

Before you reach for the shovel, remember to call 811, the national call-before-you-dig number, to ensure that your buried utility lines are marked.

National Safe Digging Month

The designation of April as National Safe Digging Month is a reminder that our land is made up of a complex underground infrastructure of pipelines, wires, and cables.

Striking an underground line while digging can cause serious injuries, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and result in fines and repair costs.

A call must be placed to 811 before every digging project, from simple landscaping projects like planting trees or shrubs, to building a deck or installing a mailbox.

Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Don’t become part of the statistic—make sure to call!

Here’s what happens when you call 811:

• Your call will be routed to your local One Call Center. That’s Diggers Hotline in Wisconsin and JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) in Illinois.

• Wisconsin requires the call to be made three business days before the start of the project, while Illinois law specifies two business days.

• A representative will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

• Utility companies servicing the area then will send a professional locator to the proposed area to mark any buried lines with flags: red for electric; yellow, gas or petroleum; orange, communications; blue or purple, water; and green, sewer or drainage.

• Wait until your official project start date before beginning to dig to make sure all the utilities have been marked. If your planned work site is marked, don’t dig in that area.

• In Wisconsin, your project must begin within 10 days of your official start date. In Illinois, work must begin within 14 days of your locate request and is valid for 28 days.