AUSTIN –– With Aug. 11 (or 8/11) almost here, the Texas Railroad Commissioners remind Texans that state law requires residents to call 811 before any digging project to have underground pipelines and other utilities marked.
“Every digging project, no matter how large or small warrants a call to 811,” said Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones. “Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line may still exist.”
Commissioner David Porter said, “Education is the key. With more than 358,000 miles of active pipelines, Texas has more pipelines than any other state. So, everyone needs to be aware of the infrastructure underneath us that supports our energy needs and to call 811 before digging.”
Commissioner Barry T. Smitherman said, “The depth of pipelines can vary due to many reasons, including erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. No matter how small the job, you need to call 811 whether you are installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree or laying a patio.”
A recent report by Common Ground Alliance determined that underground pipelines are damaged during digging projects every three minutes nationwide. In Texas, digging also known as excavation damage is the top cause accounting for 76 percent of pipeline incidents in the state, most which are minor.
The call to 811 is free and must be made two business days before digging. When calling 811, homeowners, excavators and contractors are connected to one of the two state One-Call Centers operating in Texas. Professional locators are then sent to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.
Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Not calling 811 before digging or incorrectly marked pipelines, can result in fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation. In addition, the Commission may assess an enhanced violation of up to $25,000. In calendar year 2010, the Commission collected more than $1.7 million in penalties for excavation damages.
Visit www.call811.com or www.rrc.texas.gov for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.