Friday, April 2, 2021

It's call before you dig month

(Radio Iowa) - The governor has declared April to be Safe Digging Month in Iowa. Iowa One Call's Ben Booth says there are still people who start digging before calling 811 to located underground utilities despite all the warnings.

"In a lot of cases it's because people are not aware of the requirement. Or maybe they don't realize what they are doing in their yard entails excavation and requires a notice," he says.

Booth says some people also get in a big hurry to do a project and dig without a call. He says calling is not optional.

"It is a requirement by law that everyone notifies Iowa One Call at least 48 hours prior to beginning any digging or excavating. And that does not include Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays," according to Booth.

Booth says the under utility location service is free -- but it can cost you in damage and fines if you hit something because you didn't know it was there. He says there are a lot of utilities buried underground -- including key links to the internet during the pandemic.

"People rely on their internet connectivity. It's almost an essential service now like your gas or electric," Booth says. " And cutting into a fiber service line or worse yet -- a main that brings the fiber communications into a community -- that can be devastating to people who relay on that to get their jobs done."

You can call 811 or Booth says there is now an online option available.

"We like to say click before you dig. If you go to IowaOneCall.com, you can complete your online notices, and it's much easier. There's a very robust mapping system, it's very detailed and allows the user to really pinpoint where that area in their their planned excavation work," Booth says.

He says those who come out to mark the utilities like the detail of the online system. He says you can use the precise mapping tools and the locators like to have the ticket showing exactly where you are going to excavate -- and he says it helps speed up the process. He says Iowa One Call representatives handle more than 700,000 notices and coordinate more than 3.5 million locate requests annually.

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