Spring is here, and many homeowners may be preparing to complete some much-needed home improvements. 

Also, activities on farms and ranchlands will soon be at its peak. Fence building and repair, deep ripping, removing stumps, repairing drain tile, soil contouring, road maintenance, and other activities can impact pipelines and other buried facilities on the right-of-way. 

Land owners and lease holders need to call 811 and communicate with facility owners to ensure the safety of themselves, their land, and their families.

811 is a national number created by the Federal Communications Commission to help protect homeowners and contractors from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects. 811 is a free service.

In a recent survey, fewer than one in five farmers and ranchers with a pipeline on their property have ever called or contacted the pipeline operator prior to beginning a digging project. 

There are a number of reasons they fail to take the first step toward safe digging. 

Here are just a few myths about 811 and calling before digging:

• Myth — I know where the pipeline is and there are pipeline signs, I don’t need to call before digging.

• Fact — Pipeline markers are there to alert people of the presence of a pipeline and provide quick access to emergency contact information. 

They do NOT show the exact location of a pipeline. Relying on memory and second-hand information as to the exact location of a pipeline is dangerous. I don’t know about you, but I can barely remember where I put my keys most mornings. Don’t risk it, call 811 before any project.

• Myth — Farming is tough business and I don’t need permits. I can’t afford delays or to pay to have lines located on my property.

• Fact — Calling 811 is fast and free. Research shows that over 95% of all digging projects are planned at least a couple of days in advance. 

A free call to 811 will alert pipeline operators of your plans to dig, and the lines will be located in 2-3 days. 

If there is a pipeline located in the area of the planned project, a representative from the company will come out to the location at no charge and make sure everyone goes home safe.

• Myth — I’m not digging, I’m farming and I have an exemption so I don’t need to call. The pipeline is too deep for me to hit.

• Fact — Many states do offer a very limited exemption to One-Call laws for “normal agricultural activities”. 

Deep ripping, soil sampling, fence building, and ditch cleaning may seem like “normal” farming, but without a call to 811 prior to digging, these and other excavating activities can impact pipelines. Pipeline depths can change over time. Erosion, contouring, prior digging projects, and other factors can affect pipeline depth. Don’t risk a catastrophic incident by cutting corners. ALWAYS call 811 and follow safe excavation practices.

After You 

Make the Call

Calling 811 before starting any excavating project is the first step in the safe digging process.  Here is what happens next:

• When a call is received and the area of work is noted, the local 811 Center, using mapping technology, will identify all buried utilities registered with the center.

*IMPORTANT NOTE – Private facilities like electric or gas lines feeding out-buildings are not registered with the call center and will NOT be located.  

Private facility locators for Nevada can be found at: http://www.privateutilitylocating.com/Nevada.php .

• An email will go out to the pipeline operator and any utility within a set distance of the work area. For natural gas transmission lines for example, whenever work is scheduled within 300 feet of the pipeline, they will dispatch qualified personnel to locate the pipeline within 2-3 business days. 

Individual state laws vary, click here to see notification requirements in your state: http://call811.com/811-your-state[SpeSend.net] .

• When the technician dispatched by the pipeline operator arrives, he will use equipment designed to locate the pipeline and identify the line with yellow paint and flags. 

 The flag will include the name of the pipeline operator as well as a contact phone number.

• Technicians will also arrive and locate water lines, telecommunication cables, and any other buried utility.  These techs will use orange flags and paint for the communications cables, blue for water, red for electric.  For a complete list of colors click here: http://www.gopherstateonecall.org/color-code-chart[SpeSend.net]

• After waiting the full 2-3 days, work can begin!

Hitting an underground utility line while digging can cause environmental damage, serious personal injury and disrupt service to an entire neighborhood. 

If you don’t call 811 prior to digging and hit an underground utility line, you could potentially incur fines and be responsible for repair costs!