Before starting an outdoor home improvement project, call 811 before you dig

FERGUS FALLS, MN – April 1, 2022 – In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Great Plains Natural Gas announced results from a recent national survey revealing that 49% of homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and their communities at risk by digging without contacting 811 beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities. Additionally, 58% of homeowners reported experiencing a utility service interruption in the last 12 months, a direct result of damaging an underground utility line.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs at the expense of the homeowner when natural gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, laying a patio and pounding stakes are some examples of digging projects that require contacting 811 before starting.

While most homeowners know the importance of safe digging, it is reported that 40% of active diggers believe they are not digging deep enough to warrant having lines marked and 36% of homeowners believe their project was not in an area that needs to be marked. Homeowners are encouraged to be aware as depths of utility lines vary, and multiple lines may be in a common area. Even if you have dug in an area previously, erosion, settling ground and other factors can change the depth and location of utilities over time. Stop excavating immediately if you find unmarked utility lines and call 811 to have them marked.

Great Plains Natural Gas is committed to keeping homeowners safe by reducing damages to underground natural gas lines through education and awareness. As part of National Safe Digging Month, homeowners are encouraged to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Always contact 811 a few days before digging, regardless of depth or familiarity of the property.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don’t allow work to begin until an 811 locate ticket has been completed.
  • Confirm that all utilities listed on your 811 locate ticket request have been marked or cleared – in any area you plan to dig – before digging.
  • Contact the utility listed on the locate ticket if they have not responded by the due date listed on your ticket.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near marked utility lines.
  • Carefully hand dig within two feet of the marked lines and visually determine the exact location of the utility line before proceeding if your dig project is next to a marked line.
  • Do NOT build structures (sheds, shops, decks, etc.) over utility lines, as this restricts access to the utility lines and can result in a dangerous situation.
  • Remember that damaging a utility line is dangerous and can result in expensive repair bills.
  • Visit call811.com for complete info.

Everyone who contacts 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags, or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, you can carefully begin digging around the marked areas.

Contact 811: It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law.

Great Plains Natural Gas Co. distributes natural gas and provides related services in 18 western Minnesota communities and Wahpeton, North Dakota. It serves approximately 24,600 customers. Great Plains is a division of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. For more information about Great Plains, visit www.gpng.com.

Media Contact: Mark Hanson at 701-530-1093 or [email protected]

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