Avista reminds customers: call before you dig

Avista reminds customers: call before you dig
Avista Corporation

April marks the 10th annual “National Safe Digging Month,” and Avista wants to remind its customers to always call 811 two business days before any digging project. National Safe Digging Month is formally recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and has traditionally earned the support of nearly every state governor across the country.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to the local One Call Center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site, which should be outlined in white paint by the customer, to mark the approximate locations of the utilities underground lines with flags, paint or both. Every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Also at 811, privately-owned lines can be located for a fee and can be requested when calling 811, and asking for a ‘private locate’.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after a call to 811.

“As April marks the traditional start of digging season, we are using this month to strongly encourage individuals and companies to call 811 before they begin digging,” said Tony Klutz, Avista safety manager. “By calling 811 to have the underground utility lines in their area marked, homeowners and professionals are making an important decision that can help keep them and their communities safe and connected.”

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.