Would you drive a car down a pitch-black road with no headlights? Plan a cross country road trip without checking your gas tank? While most would agree doing either would be an unwise, if not dangerous endeavor, many think nothing of taking equivalent risk by digging into land without having underground utility pipes and equipment identified.
Properly marking lines in advance increases the odds of successfully completing excavation work in the United States without causing damage to underground lines and equipment by 99 percent; and Kentucky law requires it.
Whether it’s a major construction project or yard work at home, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company advise consumers to call Kentucky 811 to prevent digging into and damaging underground utilities, otherwise known as a third-party dig-in.
Kentucky 811 is a free statewide computer-operated communication system. When consumers call 811 to submit a “locate request,” this request is sent to each member company that provides natural gas, electric, telephone, cable and water service in the requested area. Each company will then either mark its underground lines or notify the individual if there are no underground lines in the area.
In 2013, the 811 call center took nearly 136,000 requests for LG&E gas and electric lines and KU electric lines.
LG&E and KU actively educate excavators and the general public about the importance of calling 811 because this service protects public safety and prevents costly damages.
For example, LG&E’s Damage Prevention Coordinator Tracy Reesor is in the field everyday investigating dig-in damages, and working with contractors and homeowners to ensure they’re aware of, and understand the importance of, using 811 to prevent damage to LG&E gas lines.
In turn, damage to LG&E gas lines has declined 50 percent and the company’s annual cost of repairing gas line damages caused by third-party dig-ins has been reduced by 66 percent since 2003.
Follow these four important safe-digging steps:
1. Call 811 at least two business days in advance.
2. Wait the required amount of time.
3. Respect the marks that outline the underground utility lines and equipment.
4. Dig with care.
All LG&E and many KU service territory locations are included under the 811 call center. KU customers should visit KU’s Call Before You Dig web page or call 1-800-981-0600 to see if you need to contact KU or Kentucky 811 to have your underground electric lines marked.