Many homeowners often make risky assumptions when it comes to digging in their yard for various reasons (making foundations, planting trees etc.). They prefer to believe that they are entitled to do anything on their property, which is mostly true, but does not apply in the case of digging. That is because there is a network of underground utilities, and digging without discernment and without having a permit may be both damaging and dangerous.
Underground utilities – what are they?
Underground utilities are not only power and phone lines, as many people tend to believe, but they also include water and sewage, cable, oil and gas lines, in the form of sewers, pipes, fiber optics, wires etc.
Hitting underground utilities may cause different types of damage, resulting in disturbances, financial penalties, explosions, electrocutions, leaks etc.
“What to do before I dig in my yard?” – a responsible questions that you should ask yourself
Before starting a digging/ excavation project on your property, you should make a simple phone call to schedule a visit of some Colorado Springs utilities locations professionals that will mark for you the location of buried utilities. This way, you will be able to avoid ground disturbances, as well as severe damage that may result in downtime, by isolating an entire community or by disrupting vital communications.
811 is the number that you must call, even if you only plant a shrub or install a mailbox. Don`t just assume that digging a smaller hole will be safe, because you may be wrong. Besides, legal regulations clearly forbid digging holes deeper than 12 inches. You must also call 811 if you dig in a spot that was already marked, because the depth of location can be altered by factors such as soil erosion or the growth of the roots.
It is not necessary to have your entire yard marked. Just outline the area where you plan to dig and the locators will focus exclusively on it.
What to expect when you call 811
811 can be dialed from anywhere in the US and you will be routed to a call center and talk to one of the operators.
You have to provide a few basic details about your digging project, as well as your address. In a few days, you will be visited by professional locators sent by companies with buried facilities on your dig site.
The marking process will not take long and once you receive the green light, you can start digging carefully, respecting the marks.
Consequences of breaking the digging law
Always remember to plan responsibly a digging / excavation project on your property, otherwise you will be subject of various penalties.
Each state has a penalty system that includes financial penalties as well as education (training programs on safe digging). Penalty systems distinguish violations according to the level of severity. Repeating a violation also brings higher penalties. For example, a first time offender will likely receive a warning and a fine of a few hundred dollars. A second offence will be fined higher and the person will also be required to attend an education program. Third and more times offenders can be fined up to a few thousand dollars and also be subject to enforcement actions, if the damaged they caused is extensive.