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Calling 811 before you dig is easy — not calling is a gamble

Calling 811 before you dig is easy — not calling is a gamble

 

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ 

There are certain things you need before you start digging in your yard. Of course, you’ll need a shovel or, depending on the size of the project, maybe a backhoe. You might want gloves. Maybe some friends to help you out.

But before you do any of that, make sure you have called 811 to mark any utilities that cross through your yard. Texas law requires that homeowners, businesses and contractors call 811 at least two business days before digging.

There’s no better time to remind the public about the importance of calling 811 than on National Safe Digging Day on August 11, or 8-11. The call is free and so are the various utilities who will come out to mark electric, communication, natural gas/petroleum, irrigation, potable water and sewer and drain lines on your property so you or a contractor can dig safely.

Not calling 811 could result in one of these lines being cut or damaged, which could be a safety hazard and interrupt service to not only your home but also neighboring homes and businesses.

Rodney Hale, CoServ’s Gas Regulatory Technician, said 43 percent of the gas pipeline damages reported to the Texas Railroad Commission in 2020 were a result of not calling 811. Rodney is also the President of the North Texas Chapter of the Damage Prevention Council of Texas, which advocates on behalf of Texas 811.

“It’s imperative that everyone make that first step of calling 811 before any excavation deeper than 16 inches,” Rodney said. “It goes back to CoServ’s core mission, which is to provide safe and reliable energy solutions. A cut gas line is a major event that forces roads to close and could require homes and businesses to be evacuated. In a worst-case scenario, there’s an ignition, explosion or loss of life.”

Digging into 811

  1. The process starts with a call to 811, the one-source notification center for Texas, two business days before a digging project is scheduled. 
  2. Texas 811 uses a GIS map to identify all the utilities in the area and notifies them of the pending excavation.
  3. CoServ uses a third-party contractor, USIC, to locate its electric and gas lines.
  4. CoServ Gas Lines are buried with a tracer wire. USIC runs a low voltage current through the wire that can be detected with a hand-held wand. 
  5. Lines are marked with flags of different colors to indicate the type of utility. (CoServ Electric will be red and CoServ Gas lines will be yellow)

Click here to test your 811 IQ with our fun quiz!

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