FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327
April proclaimed safe digging month
PIERRE, S.D. – With warm weather around the corner, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board remind those planning to do any excavation work that state law requires a call to 811 at least two working days before beginning any digging project in order to give professional locators time to mark the appropriate underground utility lines. Such projects include, but are not limited to, installing a fence, planting trees or shrubbery or preparing a new garden area.
This spring Governor Dennis Daugaard is proclaiming April as safe digging month and commemorating the South Dakota One Call program for providing 20 years of valuable service by facilitating the location of underground utilities to South Dakota residents.
811 is a free service that connects excavators and homeowners to South Dakota One Call Center personnel who quickly notify all affected utility companies of the upcoming excavation plans. Excavators must contact the One Call center 48 hours before digging, excluding weekends and legal holidays. Utility companies will dispatch their crews to mark the underground lines at the respective dig site. Excavators should carefully plan their digging projects to ensure adequate time for notification to South Dakota One Call is part of their schedule.
Last year the South Dakota One Call program received 136,814 locate requests and sent out 807,176 locate tickets to utility companies across the state – a slight uptick from 2012, indicating more South Dakotans are using the program.
"It's essential that homeowners and professional excavators take time to locate and mark all underground utility lines," PUC Chairman Gary Hanson said. "Damaged lines can lead to service interruptions and may have detrimental effects on the environment."
The depth of each utility line varies so the risk of striking a line or pipe exists even a few inches below the ground. To keep the integrity of the utilities intact, it's important to call 811 even for small projects.
"Our main goal is to protect the public and the working professionals from potential injury," Erin Hayes, South Dakota One Call Board chairman and director of corporate construction for Midcontinent Communications, said. "Following the One Call process is simple: Call before you dig, be mindful of the marks and dig with care."
To learn more about 811 and safe digging practices, visit www.onecall.sd.gov.
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