Gov. Inslee Proclaims April as Safe Digging Month
LACEY, Wash. – To protect personal safety and underground utility infrastructure, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission reminds residents to follow the law and call 811 before they dig this spring.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation announcing April as Washington Safe Digging Month. The proclamation serves as a reminder for everyone to call 811 before digging into the ground to prevent injury, property damage, and inconvenient outages.
By calling 811 at least two business days before starting any digging projects, homeowners can obtain an underground utility locate to know what utility lines may lie below their property. Failure to Call Before You Dig may result in damage to underground utility lines or pipes – and a costly repair bill.
As residents begin various gardening, home improvement, and construction projects this spring, they must follow the law and call 811 before digging. Whether planting a tree, installing a mailbox, or building a fence, homeowners and contractors need to know where buried utility lines are located.
In 2020, 2,219 incidents involving damage to underground utilities were reported in Washington. Forty-two percent of those incidents were caused by individuals digging without first getting an underground utility locate. These potentially dangerous accidents can be prevented by planning ahead and calling 811.
The Utility Notification Center receives calls to 811 and dispatches professional locators to physically mark utility lines beneath excavation areas. Once the locate is complete, remember to dig carefully around the marked areas with a hand tool. Buried electrical lines or natural gas pipes can be dangerously close to the surface. Accidental contact with a shovel or backhoe is risky and potentially fatal.
Last year, the notification center received 535,826 locate requests, a decrease of more than 2,500 from 2019.
The UTC urges residents who experience trouble with a utility locate—if the locate is late, incomplete, or inaccurate—to please call the UTC Consumer Help Line at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or email email@example.com.
Established by the Legislature in 1955, the UTC’s Pipeline Safety Program regulates the safety practices of 33 pipeline operators and conducts safety inspections on more than 44,000 miles of natural gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines in Washington. The UTC also regulates private, investor-owned natural gas, electric, water, and telecommunication utilities in the state. More information on the UTC Pipeline Safety Program can be found at www.utc.wa.gov/pipeline.
Editor’s Note: A copy of Gov. Inslee’s proclamation and more information on safe digging can be found at www.utc.wa.gov/safediggingmonth.