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Xcel Energy is reminding customers that April is National Safe Digging Month. Every six minutes, an underground utility line is damaged somewhere in the country during a digging project, according to a report by the Common Ground Alliance. Customers need to call 811 before beginning any digging project to have underground utility lines marked.
Wisconsin homeowners and contractors who call 811 are connected to Diggers Hotline, the local center that notifies the appropriate utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. At no charge, professional locators are sent to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.
Damaging or striking a single line can create a dangerous situation, cause injury, repair costs, fines and outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811 at least three business days in advance. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting to ensure safety.
State law requires that property owners have underground lines located prior to any digging. This includes any lines previously located. It is also important to use only non-mechanized equipment when digging within 18 inches of the locate marks.
Customers need to make arrangements with a private locate company to locate lines not owned by a utility, such as a line installed by a homeowner to heat a pool or light a garage. Digging without locates can cause property damage, interrupt services, cause personal injury and even death if someone accidentally digs into underground utility lines.
For more information about 811 and safe digging practices visit www.diggershotline.com.