Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 1, 2020) – Local utility providers EPB, Chattanooga Gas and Tennessee American Water are partnering to promote “Call Before You Dig” for National Safe Digging Month. The 13th annual National Safe Digging Month is an initiative that urges excavators and homeowners to call 811 before beginning a digging project to avoid the serious risks that could result from striking a utility line. In addition, the Tennessee American Water icon “Phillip D. Glass,” which sits atop the Company’s water tank on Amnicola Highway, is wearing an 811 shirt to support the effort.
“Safe digging is a shared responsibility,” said Tennessee American Water Operations Manager Leah Morrison. “Even what may seem like a simple DIY project in your yard can lead to damage or extremely dangerous circumstances. The 811 service, which is funded by the nearly 600 member utilities, is free to homeowners.”
Each year the state’s underground utility infrastructure is jeopardized through unintended damage by those who fail to call 811 to have underground lines located prior to digging, resulting in undesired consequences such as service interruption, damage to the environment and personal injury. In the most current report available, 7,500 damages were reported in Tennessee in 2018.
In three working days or less, utility locators will visit a job site and mark the location of the utility lines within the area of work described on the locate request. There is no need for homeowners to interact with workers, making this an easy process that provides homeowners peace of mind, knowing they can comply with current social distancing guidelines while still completing their project safely.
“Many of us may not be aware of just how many pipes and lines lie underground,” said EPB Field Services Manager Shane Wallin. “There can be fiber optic lines, sewer and water pipes or natural gas lines. Hitting any of these lines can cause damage. It may seem like an inconvenience to wait, but planning ahead can save lives.”
In 2019 Chattanoogans working on projects such as planting trees, shrubs or building patios or decks in communitiesnear East Brainerd and Hixson caused the most damage to Chattanooga Gas service lines. Cleveland, Apison, Collegedale, Ooltewah and the Southside are all hot spots for higher damage rates, as well.
“This is an important joint effort to encourage all Chattanoogans to think about safety when planning projects in their yards,” said Wendall Dallas, vice president of Chattanooga Gas. “Calling 811 is a critical preventative measure to reduce the more than 200 infrastructure damage calls we respond to annually in Chattanooga alone.”
811 was designated by the FCC in 2005 as a simple number to reach the one call center to request utility line locations at an intended dig site.
“Through education of safe digging practices, excavators and homeowners can save time and money and help keep our nation safe and connected by making a simple call to 811 in advance of any digging project,” said Morrison. “Planning ahead and building in time for locates to be made is an important part of getting a job done right.”
After calling 811, the details of a homeowner's digging project are transmitted to the local utility companies who respond by locating and marking the location of their underground lines. Utility markings follow a standard color code that helps distinguish what each line represents and it's important to respect the markings and what they represent. Per TN one call law (TCA § 65-31-108 (c)), homeowners and other excavators shall exercise reasonable care when digging within 2 feet on either side of each marked line. They should contact their local utilities directly if additional assistance is needed after the lines are marked.
Learn more at www.tn811.com.
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