PG&E is using tomorrow’s date – Aug. 11 or 8/11 – to remind customers about the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging project.
A simple call before any excavation, large or small, can prevent damage to underground utility equipment and all the problems associated with it, including injuries or outages.
National statistics show that once every three minutes a utility line is damaged by digging. In PG&E’s service area, which stretches from the Oregon border to Bakersfield, more than 2,000 dig-ins where third-parties struck PG&E lines were reported between June 2011 and June 2012. Of these, nearly half (47 percent) were caused by residential customers, and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) were instances where a customer or contractor didn’t call 811.
According to federal statistics, more than a third (34.1 percent) of all serious pipeline incidents between 1991 and 2010 resulted from excavation damage.
These incidents are all completely preventable. Prevention starts with a call to Underground Service Alert (USA), a free service for homeowners, excavators and professional contractors who are digging, grading, drilling or excavating.
When customers call USA, PG&E and other utilities are notified so they can determine whether or not they have underground facilities at the excavation site. PG&E will either mark the area or notify a customer that the area is clear.
As a reminder, PG&E only marks its own gas, electric and communication lines. PG&E will typically field mark the horizontal location of gas and electric facilities by painting stripes on surface streets and sidewalks or marking unpaved areas with colored flags. Yellow designates gas lines and red designates electric lines.
Other utility companies will locate and mark their own lines for water, sewer, telecommunications, etc.
USA is available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for holidays. All utilities have two business days (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to mark and locate their underground lines.
Here are some specific steps for residential and business customers to take.
- Plan the excavation. Calls to 811 can be made up to 14 days in advance. Advanced notice helps utilities schedule their mark and locate resources.
- Call USA at least two working days prior to the start of excavation.
- Determine the limits of the excavation area and mark out the excavation site in white.
- Use hand tools to carefully excavate next to marked underground facilities.
- Respect and maintain the field markings for the duration of the job.
- Extend the USA ticket if your project goes beyond 28 calendar days.
- If there is any type of damage to PG&E electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps: 1) Move to a safe location
2) Call 911
3) Call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000
- For more information about USA visit www.call811.com