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Know What’s Below — Always Call 811 Before You Dig

This April, the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is celebrating the 10th anniversary of National Safe Digging Month by reminding District residents to always call 811 two working days before any digging project.  Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month in the District, and our Commission staff has produced a public service announcement encouraging everyone to dial 811 before digging.

Why is it so important to spread the message of calling 811 before you dig?

Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Also, according to a recent Common Ground Alliance survey 45 percent of people who plan to dig this year will not call 811 first, despite there being 100 billion feet of utility lines buried underground in the United States. These buried facilities, including natural gas, water, sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet, landline telephone and electric, provide the services District residents depend on for their basic everyday needs.
If you are planning a job that requires digging, even if you plan to hire a professional, a call to 811 is required before you begin working.

811 is a free, FCC-designated national one call number that connects a caller from anywhere in the country to the appropriate local one call center. The one call center will then alert the appropriate underground facility owners so they can dispatch locators to mark the approximate location of their lines with paint or flags.

Unintentionally striking a line can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors, and repair costs.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811.

Here’s how it works:

1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.

2. Call at least two working days prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines will be properly marked.

3. When you call 811, a representative from the District One-Call Center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

4. The District One-Call Center will notify affected utility companies, and each will send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

5. Once lines have been properly marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.

Keep your project safe for you and your community.  Call 811 Before You Dig.
Watch videos and learn more about 811 at www.dcpsc.org/Dial811.

The mission of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is to serve the public interest by ensuring that financially healthy electric, natural gas and telecommunications companies provide safe, reliable and quality utility services at reasonable rates for District of Columbia residential, business and government customers.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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