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Call 811 before digging, so you don’t have to call 911

Alliant Energy hopes this week, which started with the date 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for everyone to call 811 before they dig.

Digging and hitting a buried utility line like natural gas, electric, cable or Internet can result in injury or death. The person digging can also face fines and repair costs for hitting a line. A hit line can also cause a service outage to the area.

A national report found that small fencing, irrigation and landscaping contractors were most often involved in digging incidents. Often, it was from a failure to call 811 before starting work. Utility lines need to be located and respected for all digging projects like installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors to call 811 before digging. This single act helps to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Richard Sublett, senior manager of compliance and operational performance for Alliant Energy. “It really is the only way to know what utilities are buried in your area.”

When a customer calls 811, a state organization notifies area utilities. They will send contractors to mark the approximate location of underground lines with flags or paint.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be located and marked because some are just inches deep.

Call at least 48 hours before starting a digging project. When you start to dig, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Carefully hand dig if within this zone. Distance requirements vary by state, so ask for guidelines when calling 811.

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