Springtime in South Dakota means an increase in construction activity, outdoor home projects and a heightened awareness to call 811 before any digging project, according to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board. For these reasons and more, Governor Dennis Daugaard is proclaiming April as Safe Digging Month in South Dakota.
Before starting a home renovation or landscaping project, take the important step to have a professional locator mark all underground utility lines. South Dakota law requires excavators and homeowners to contact South Dakota One Call at least two working days before beginning any digging project.
There are multiple ways to contact One Call. Simply dial 811 to talk to a representative in person, enter a request online at www.SDOneCall.com, or use the new South Dakota 811 mobile app available for iPhone and Android users.
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. The utility companies then dispatch their crews within 48 hours to mark the underground lines at the respective dig site.
Using the 811 program decreases the risk of hitting a buried utility line. Damaged lines can cause service interruptions, environmental harm, injury or even death.
“The depth of each buried line varies. The risk of striking a line or pipe exists even a few inches below the ground,” PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said. “It’s imperative that homeowners and professional excavators take time to have all underground utilities located and marked before breaking ground.”
Last year the South Dakota One Call Center received nearly 134,000 locate requests and sent out more than 802,000 locate tickets across the state – a comparable number of requests received in 2013, which shows that overall South Dakotans are conscientious when digging.
“The process is simple: Call before you dig, be mindful of the marks and dig with care,” said Erin Hayes, South Dakota One Call Board chairman and director of corporate construction for Midcontinent Communications. “We want to make sure everyone is safe while working near buried service lines.”
To learn more about 811 and safe digging practices, visit www.onecall.sd.gov.