TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Because tomorrow, Aug. 11, is dubbed 811 Day, it serves as a reminder for Florida residents and excavators to call 811 two business days before beginning digging to have underground utilities marked. All digging projects – from DIY tasks such as landscaping or installing a mailbox to larger projects requiring excavation equipment – require a call to 811.
Peoples Gas reminds Floridians that the underground network of utility wires, cables and pipelines is often closer to the surface than one might think. Striking one of these underground utility lines while digging could cause the loss of natural gas, electric, water or communications and cable services, injury to the person digging or others, and potentially result in fines and repair costs.
“It’s not just a coincidence that we mark August 11 as a day to emphasize safe digging,” said Luke Buzard, vice president of Pipeline Safety and Regulatory Affairs for Peoples Gas. “Most damage to underground utility lines occurs during summer months, with the highest percentage in August.”
While most digging projects are preplanned and easily allow time to call 811 two business days before starting, some digging work may be unexpected. After severe weather, homeowners are often faced with downed fences and uprooted trees. As part of their post-storm recovery plan, residents should plan to call 811 before removing trees and tree stumps or resetting fences. Don’t run the risk of losing essential services by not having underground utilities marked.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a revised law into effect on July 1 that is expected to increase safety in Florida’s communities by strengthening “Call 811 before you dig” enforcement and accountability across the state. Residents and excavators could see increased penalties for damaged underground utilities and violations of the law. Penalties may apply when, for example, homeowners or excavators dig without calling 811, ignore the 24-inch tolerance zone, continue digging after damage has occurred, or remove any permanent utility markers required by law.
In addition to the increased penalties, the bill also expands enforcement authority to the state fire marshal and local fire chiefs, and it calls for fines to fund firefighter equipment and damage-prevention education.
One free, simple phone call to 811 or visit to sunshine811.com makes it easy for Sunshine 811 to notify all appropriate utility companies of upcoming digging projects. Sunshine 811 is a non-profit corporation funded by underground utility owners and operators. The organization began in 1993 with the adoption of the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Residents and excavators should call 811 at least two full business days before digging to give utility companies enough time to properly mark their lines. The location and a description of the digging project is required.
- Sunshine 811 notifies affected utility companies, who then send a professional locator to mark the approximate location of underground equipment for free.
- Check the Sunshine 811 Positive Response link at sunshine811.com and, once all utilities have responded, dig carefully within 24 inches of any marks in your project area.
- Even if you are not digging, remember to leave any markers – paint or flags – in place. They are a sign of work that may be coming soon to your area by a utility or contractor.
Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves more than 400,000 customers across the state. Peoples Gas is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.