Now that the ground is thawing, you might be itching to get started on some outdoor improvement projects.
As you prepare to put in shrubs or a new mailbox, remember there is more than just dirt under the surface of your yard. Local utility providers say there is an easy way to find out where to, and where not to dig.
"You don't know what's in the ground. There's a lot of utilities that are out there and you need to be very careful where you're digging," says Tim Hanson, Director of Public works for the City of Rockford.
Just like sewer and water, electric and cable lines are also buried underground. Sometimes these utilities can as little as 6 inches below the surface, and are small enough to be damaged by a shovel.
"Somebody cut down a Comcast line a few years ago and it shut off Comcast for a whole section for days. to go through and reconnect fibers in the ground is very tedious," says Hanson.
The best way to avoid this is to call the JULIE hotline at 811 at least two days before you start your project. The free service sends utility crews to mark buried lines with color coded flags.
Paul Callighan, ComEd Spokesman says, "You don't want to assume you know. you cant to make sure you know."
Not only is calling 811 a helpful tool, it is required by law before every digging project.
If you dig and damage something, it could be your responsibility to pay for it. And that's not the only risk.
"It clearly is a huge safety issue because you could get injured by digging into an electric line or gas line," says Callighan.
Each year, 165 thousand underground utilities are damaged nationwide. A third of those happen because someone did not call 811 before digging.
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