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Call 811 to avoid hitting buried utilities

Did you know that 76 percent of CoServ’s power lines are underground?

In fact, CoServ has more than 9,000 miles of buried electrical infrastructure. That probably includes the lines that serve your house. Then consider that CoServ Gas has more than 2,000 miles of underground natural gas lines.

Add in buried lines for telecommunications, water, sewer and sprinklers and you’ve got a web of lines crossing through your neighborhood and along major roadways.

That’s why it’s so important that Texans call 811 before starting any projects that require them to dig 16 inches or deeper. That includes everything from planting a tree to installing a fence.

August 11 is National Safe Digging Day, or 8-11, the perfect time to remind the public about the importance of having utilities marked before digging. It’s not just a recommendation – it’s required by Texas law.

Last year, CoServ Gas responded to 86 excavation-related incidents. Statewide, failure to call 811 is the leading cause of pipeline damage, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. 

Since National Safe Digging Day debuted in 2008, the number of incidents per calendar year dropped from 11,703 to 9,531, according to the Texas Railroad Commission.

But there’s still work to be done to raise awareness of 811. There’s also a misconception that pipeline damages are done by heavy equipment. In reality, one quarter of all damaged lines are from hand tools.

Dig with care:

“When damage to a gas line occurs it not only creates an unsafe situation but can be very costly to repair and interrupts service to customers,” said Rodney Hale, Gas Compliance Manager for CoServ Gas. “So many of these cases could be prevented simply by calling 811 two business days before the digging occurs.”

The call is free but not calling could cause an interruption of service or, worse, a safety hazard. 

 

Here’s how it works:

  • Homeowners or contractors must call 811 two business days before a digging project begins. The call is free.
  • Texas 811 uses a GIS map to identify all the utilities in the area and notifies them
    of the pending excavation.
  • CoServ hires a third-party contractor, USIC, to locate its electric and gas lines.
  • CoServ Gas lines are buried with a tracer wire. USIC runs a low-voltage current through the wire so the lines can be detected with a hand-held wand.
  • The various lines are marked with flags of different colors to indicate the type of utility.

How hit lines occur:

Backhoe/trackhoe: 42%
Hand tools: 25%
Boring: 14%
Unknown/Other: 6%
Auger: 4%
Trencher: 3%
Grader/scraper: 2%
Probing device: 2%
Directional drilling: 1%
Drilling: 1%

Who is hitting lines in Texas:

Contractor: 79.12%
Municipality: 4.72%
Utility: 4.43%
Unknown/other: 4.42%
Occupant: 3.29%
Homeowner: 2.74%
Developer: 0.77%
County: 0.26%
Farmer: 0.1%
Data not collected: 0.1%

COLOR CODES FOR MARKED UTILITY LINES

What is 811

  1. What is 811?
    1. A special phone number to video chat with YouTube celebrities
    2. Similar to 911 but for non-emergencies 
    3. A phone number for Texans to call before they dig a hole 16 inches or deeper
  2. How much notice should you provide 811 before you start your project?
    1. 24 hours
    2. 48 hours
    3. 72 hours
  3. What happens after you call?
    1. Crews will come out to mark underground utilities with color-coded flags
    2. Mr. Diggs will stop by your house
    3. Nothing will happen
  4. When should you call 811?
    1. Anytime you need to call CoServ Gas
    2. Whenever there’s a gas emergency
    3. Anytime you need to dig more than 16 inches
  5. What should you do if you smell a  gas leak?
    1. Immediately call 911
    2. Get a safe distance and call 911
    3. All of the above

 

Answers: 1. C, 2. B, 3. A, 4. C, 5. C

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