Rural Issue

Rural Safety Reminder: Call before you dig

A utility damage prevention manger reminds rural residents to have underground utilities identified before starting an excavating project.

Roger Watwood with JULIE Inc. in Illinois tells Brownfield on average, an underground utility line is damaged every 6 minutes.

“And it’s usually because somebody thought they knew where the lines were. ‘Ohh, I’m not digging that deep. I’m not doing excavation. I’m just driving a fence post in the ground.’ But all those things are excavation.”

He says excavation can be anything from landscaping and fence post installation, to tiling and clearing waterways.

He says recent heavy rains in areas like central and southern Illinois have resulted in soil erosion, which can cause underground lines to shift.

“They were placed at a particular depth originally, but due to the soil erosion and maybe you added some fill or you cut some soil off during the years that it’s been there, nobody knows until you actually expose that line how deep it is for sure.”

Watwood says you can simply dial 811 to start the process and utility companies will locate and mark underground lines before the project begins.

He says fulfilling that responsibility helps prevent injuries and financial repercussions that can come with damaging utility lines.

Audio: Interview with Roger Watwood

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