Call Before You Dig

The aftermath of significant storms across Virginia will require a lot of work removing downed trees and when grinding tree stumps. Columbia Gas of Virginia urges Virginians to call va811, Miss Utility, at 811 and get all utilities located before beginning to work.

When trees are downed, their root system can bring with them
underground utility facilities such as underground natural gas service and main lines along with overhead utility lines. In addition, because
utilities could be underneath, caution should be taken when grinding tree stumps. By calling 811, each utility will locate their underground utilities and clearly mark their facilities using the universal color code.

The colors are:
Red – Electric
Orange – Communications, telephone, cable TV
Blue – Potable water
Green – Sewer/drainage
Yellow – Gas/petroleum pipeline
Purple – Reclaimed water
White – Premark site of intended excavation

When calling 811, callers are connected to va811, Virginia’s one-call center, which notifies all utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Professional utility locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground utility lines with flags or spray paint.

“Striking an underground utility line while removing downed trees or
grinding tree stumps can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially result in fines and repair costs,” said Mike Huwar, general manager of operations for Columbia. “Share the responsibility, be safe and always call 811 before you dig.”

Virginia law requires any person planning to dig to notify va811 at 811 before beginning to dig. This law gives utility operators 48 hours from 7 a.m. the next working day after you notify va811 to mark their underground utility facilities.

Follow these four simple steps before you dig or excavate and share the responsibility of protecting yourself and underground utilities:

1. Call 811 before you dig
a. Once you call, the member utilities are alerted that may have
facilities in your proposed excavation area. There is no fee
for this service.
2. Allow required time for marking
a. Wait 48 hours, beginning 7 a.m. the next working day
following notice, to allow the utilities to mark their
facilities.
3. Respect the marks
a. Protect and preserve the line-location markings from the time
the excavation or demolition begins until they are no longer
required for the proper and safe excavation near the utility
lines
b. Request remarking at anytime the markings become illegible for
any reason
4. Excavate carefully
a. Conduct a site survey before beginning your project. Look for
clear evidence of unmarked utilities. Clear evidence includes,
but is not limited to, the following:
i. Visual evidence of an unmarked utility line
ii. Knowledge of the presence of a utility line
iii. Faded marks from previous markings
b. If clear evidence of an unmarked utility line is identified,
contact va811 (Miss Utility) and notify them. Wait three hours
from the time you notified va811 (Miss Utility) before
proceeding.
c. Once the underground utility is located, the law requires that
the excavator take all reasonable steps to properly protect,
support and backfill underground utility lines. Also, an
excavator must not use mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines.


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