April is National Safe Digging Month, and Pepco is joining District One Call – the one-call notification center for the District of Columbia and Maryland – to remind residents, businesses and contractors that safe digging must remain a priority to prevent damage to critical underground energy services and keep communities safe.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and District of Columbia and Maryland Stay at Home orders, many residents are spending more time than ever at home. Anyone planning to use this time at home to take on a spring DIY project that involves digging must call 811 at least a few days before beginning to learn the approximate location of underground utility equipment. Taking the right steps before digging will help avoid accidental damage to underground lines that could disrupt services to surrounding neighbors, but more importantly prevent potential injury from striking an underground electric, natural gas or other utility line.
In 2019 alone, Pepco was called to 172 incidents where damage was caused to underground electric lines due to unsafe digging practices. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground equipment can result in costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water, and sewer lines are damaged. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Landscaping, planting trees and shrubs, installing a fence or mailbox, and building a deck, pond or patio, are all examples of digging projects where a call to 811 should be one of the first steps.
Pepco has nearly 7,400 miles of underground electric lines. Aside from Pepco’s lines, there are underground communications cables, water and sewer lines, and other utilities. Properly locating underground lines is essential to safely completing any digging job.
Residents and businesses should take the following steps if planning a digging project this spring:
- Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
- Confirm that all lines have been marked.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
- Visit call811.com for more information.
When calling 811 at least two business days prior to digging, customers and contractors are connected to District One Call that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
To promote safety around electric infrastructure in the communities it serves, Pepco also reminds residents and businesses that customer-owned structures are not permitted within Pepco’s easements near overhead equipment. Customers must contact their local municipality to obtain the necessary permits prior to any construction near company-owned transmission or distribution lines.
Pepco joins the Exelon family of companies, the other 1,700 Common Ground Alliance members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and governors across the country in marking April as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
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