Digging Near Underground Utilities: Are You Putting Yourself at Risk?

- Underground utility lines are struck by accident every six minutes
- Calling 8-1-1 can prevent costly and deadly mistakes around buried utilities
- August 11 is National Call Before You Dig Awareness Day

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Do you really know where the underground utility lines on your property are buried? Would you bet your life on it—and the lives of your neighbors? According to the Common Ground Alliance, an organization dedicated to protecting underground lines and those who dig nearby, an underground line is struck and damaged every six minutes in the United States.

"It's just not worth the risk," said David Rives, senior vice president-Distribution, Dominion Virginia Power. "Homeowners are often surprised by what's underground—they feel that they know their property very well. A safer bet is to assume that over time, underground utilities may have shifted because of topographical changes (such as erosion) and they might be just a few inches below the surface."

More than 20 million miles of underground utility lines crisscross farmlands, suburban backyards and urban streets across the United States. It's likely that underground utilities are present on your property and that having them properly marked before installing a mailbox, planting shrubs, installing a fence or digging a patio is critical.

"Homeowners digging in their yards without calling 811 contribute to a serious issue across Virginia," said Rick Pevarski, president and CEO of VA811. "Even for a task as simple as planting a tree, it's a must. A free, quick call to 811 can confirm what they know, or more importantly, save them from making a costly and dangerous mistake."

Aug. 11 is National Call Before You Dig Awareness Day. A call to 811 connects contractors and homeowners to a local one-call center that notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. This service is free of charge. Professional locators then are sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.

811 recommends the following for homeowners and contractors:

  • Plan ahead: always call 8-1-1 at least three business days before digging and allow time for marking, regardless of the depth of the dig or familiarity with the property.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made.
  • After you see paint markings or flags, but before you start to dig, confirm with the call center that all utilities have responded and marked their lines.
  • Consider moving your project if it is near utility line markings.

For more tips and information about safe digging and the one-call process, visit VA811.com or https://www.dom.com/business/dominion-virginia-power/safety/call-before-you-dig.

Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy with operations in 14 states. Dominion has a portfolio of approximately 20,400 megawatts of generation and 6,455 miles of electric transmission lines, and operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 928 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves utility and retail energy customers in 13 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website at www.dom.com/.


SOURCE Dominion Virginia Power

For further information: Janell Hancock, Janell.M.Hancock@dom.com; (804) 771-6115