Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

News Release
April is National Safe Digging Month
April 9, 2010 (2010 - 008)
Contacts: Ray Baum, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Susan Ackerman, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR. Planting a hedge? Adding to your deck? Pounding in a new mailbox? The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) urges everyone to stay safe by calling 811 before beginning any digging project.
“Spring is here, and many Oregonians are beginning projects that involve moving dirt,” said Commission Chairman Ray Baum.  “By calling 811, you can avoid serious injury by finding out exactly where underground utility lines are located in your work area.”
Calls to 811 are directed to a local call center and the will be sent to the affected utilities in the area of your planned project. Utility staff will then come out to your project area within 2 business days of your initial call and mark any underground utility lines. The entire process is free. Different colors of paint or stakes are used to identify what kind of utility line is buried below the ground. They include:
  • Red – Electric
  • Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line
  • Orange – Communications, Telephone/CATV
  • Blue – Potable Water
  • Purple – Reclaimed Water
  • Green – Sewer/Drainage.
The depth of utility lines varies significantly and there may be multiple utility lines in one area. Also, some utility lines are only a few inches below the surface, making them easy to strike even during shallow digging projects, such as plantings. If you hit an underground utility line while digging, you can harm yourself or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially be responsible for fines and repair costs.
“Recent data shows that buried utility lines in the U.S. were struck more than 200,000 times in one year, with over 30 percent of such hits resulting from not calling before digging,” according to the Commission’s Pipeline Safety Chief Michael Thompson.  “For example, gas, electric, water, telephone, cable TV and other lines may be buried in a homeowner’s property beginning with the paved area at the street or alley. The most effective way to prevent damage to such lines is to call 811 if you plan to dig, wait for utilities to mark their lines and then dig with hand tools around those marks” adds Thompson.
April 2010 has again been designated “National Safe Digging Month,” dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices across the country. It also celebrates the creation of the national call-before-you-dig number. In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission designated 811 as the national call-in number for homeowners and professional excavators to call before digging. In addition, on March 23, 2010 Governor Kulongoski proclaimed April 2010 as “Oregon Safe Digging Month”
Additional information on this nationwide program can be found at www.call811.com.