A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Dig it? Before you do, please ‘Call Before you Dig — 811; avoid underground utility lines

Can you dig it?

Yes, you can. But first, make an important call to 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” hotline and ask that the underground utilities on your property be properly located and marked.

“Calling 811 before digging anywhere prevents damage to underground utilities, prevents potential personal injury and avoids electric and other utility outages,” said Scott Batson, Duke Energy senior vice president and chief distribution officer. “It also helps avoid costly repairs for the offenders.”

Calling 811 is a free nationwide service. Contractors, homeowners, business owners and anyone preparing for a digging project of any kind should call 811 at least three business days before digging begins. The local utilities will then send a crew to mark underground lines in the area (electric, natural gas, water, sewer, phone, cable TV and others) with above-ground stakes, flags or paint, which indicates restricted areas before a customer begins a digging project.

In 2019, the U.S. Common Ground Alliance reported approximately 532,000 excavation-related damage events in the U.S., an increase of 14% from 2018, the latest year for which figures are available. Estimated damages in 2019 totaled approximately $30 billion in direct and indirect losses.

In 2020, Duke Energy reported approximately 2,800 damage-causing dig-in events in its six-state electric service territory.

For more information about the national system and about the 811 office in your state, visit call811.com.

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