MINNEAPOLIS, April 1, 2013 – Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman have proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month in Minnesota. CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy are partnering with the Common Ground Alliance, the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety, the governor’s office, the mayors’ offices and the Minneapolis and St. Paul fire departments to commemorate National Safe Digging Month, which is dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices.
“Calling 811 before digging or excavating prevents 99 percent of damages to underground utilities nationally,” said Joe Vortherms, division regional vice president of operations for CenterPoint Energy. “It is important that everyone digs with C.A.R.E. Call 811 before your dig. Allow at least two working days for the utility lines to be marked. Respect the marks, which means hand dig within 24-inches of the marks. Excavate carefully.” Laura McCarten, Xcel Energy regional vice president, said damaging or striking a single line can create a dangerous situation, cause injury, repair costs, fines and outages. “Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811 at least two working days in advance,” McCarten said. “Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting to ensure safety.”
Since the 811 “Call Before You Dig” campaign was created in 2004, excavation damages have declined by roughly 40 percent. Minnesota homeowners and contractors who call 811 are connected to Gopher State One Call, the local center that notifies the appropriate utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Professional locators are sent to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with color-coded flags, spray paint or both.
The depth of underground natural gas pipes, electricity cables and other utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking a utility line exists.
State law requires property owners to have underground lines located prior to any digging. This includes any lines previously located. Customers also need to make arrangements with a private locate company to locate lines not owned by a utility, such as a line installed by a homeowner to heat a pool or light a garage. Digging without locates can cause property damage, interrupt services, cause personal injury and even death if someone accidentally digs into underground utility lines.
Homeowners and professional excavators in Minnesota can visit call811.com for more information and to request the free locates. For a fast and easy way to enter your locate requests and for more information visit the Gopher State One Call website and look for E-Ticket or download the app at www.gopherstateonecall.org
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total more than $22 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. In Minnesota, CenterPoint Energy is the state’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serving over 800,000 customers in 260 communities. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com