AUSTIN – Texas Railroad Commissioners are marking 811 Day on August 11 (or 8/11) by reminding the public to call 811 before beginning any digging project. State law requires all homeowners, contractors and excavators to call 811 to have underground pipelines located and marked. Knowing where underground utility lines, including pipelines, are buried before you dig will help protect you from injury and prevent damages to utilities, service disruptions and potential fines and repair costs.
The call to 811 is free and must be made at least two business days before digging. Homeowners, excavators and contractors who call 811 are connected to one of the two state One-Call Centers operating in Texas. The One-Call Center then notifies underground facility operators, including pipelines. Locator personnel are dispatched to the digging site to mark the locations of underground pipelines and utilities with flags, spray paint or both.
Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman said, “On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners don’t gamble with your safety. Whether you're planting a tree or shrub, or installing a deck or pool, make a call to 811, if you are digging 16 inches or deeper.”
Railroad Commissioner David Porter said, “Whether you're a professional excavator or a homeowner, smart digging always includes a call to 811. There is a risk of hitting an underground utility line no matter how large or small the job. Calling 811 gives pipeline operators notice of your intent to dig and reduces the possibility of damaging an underground facility.”
Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick said, “Failure to call before digging is one of the leading causes of pipeline accidents. The vast majority of these incidents are minor and do not cause injuries, but we want to keep families and neighborhoods safe. Whether you are landscaping your yard or building an extension to your home, the first step is always to call 811 before digging.”
The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. Marked lines show the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences such as injury, service disruptions to an entire neighborhood, or costly fines and repair costs. Not calling before digging or incorrectly marked pipelines can result in fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation. Additionally, the Commission may assess an enhanced violation of up to $25,000.
With more than 374,000 miles of active pipelines, Texas has more pipelines than any other state. The Commission strives to make all Texans aware of the infrastructure underneath us that supports our state’s energy needs and to call 811 before digging to reduce the risk of striking an underground pipeline.
More information about calling 811 and safe digging practices is available online at www.call811.com or www.rrc.texas.gov.