Last year, 675,000 underground distribution lines were damaged, estimated the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a consortium of utility companies. The culprits are mostly homeowners who failed to call a dig-safe hotline. Last May, 62 local one-call centers were linked in a nationwide 811 hotline. “We are especially trying to reach homeowners and spread the word always to call before putting a shovel in the ground,” said CGA president Bob Kipp. Since its launch, the hotline is averaging around 3000 calls a day.
The campaign’s Web site, www.call811.com, features a When to Call guide suggesting, for example, that homeowners call before digging deeper than 24 in. to plant shrubs or before installing a fence along property divisions, where utility lines are frequently located. The Web site also offers a Tip of the Month section with topics such as safely installing low-voltage lighting.