Buried Utility Lines Pose Danger for Summer Yard Projects

Before starting that outdoor project, homeowners should put safety first by calling Diggers Hotline at 811.

Unseen lines buried just beneath the surface pose a safety threat when excavating. “When digging there is always risk. You need to consider there is the potential that you could damage an underground line during an excavation,” said Derrek Caflisch, Electric Operations Supervisor, Marshfield Utilities.

After calling the 811 number, the work site is located and marked typically within three working days so the homeowner can avoid damaging utilities when building a new patio, planting a tree, or starting a garden. State statute requires a notification to Diggers Hotline before any displacement of earth rock or material in the ground.

“The best way to protect yourself is to call before you dig,” said Caflisch. “For someone that has never called in a ticket before you may feel intimidated, but that is no reason not to be safe. Diggers Hotline staff are very helpful and this service is free!”

If an underground line is hit, the incident could injure the digger and cause a service disruption for neighbors or even a larger area. The digger could also be responsible financially for the damage.

Diggers Hotline does not mark private utilities such as propane lines, lawn sprinkler lines, or power lines which supply power to garden sheds or other buildings. Property owners are responsible for these private lines and should be aware of any changes.

“Properties change ownership many times over many generations. Over that time, grades are changed during improvements to drainage and through landscape projects,” said Caflisch. “While utilities may have been originally installed many feet in depth, over the years of the land being worked, the depth of the buried energized line may have changed.”

If unsure, call Marshfield Utilities once the Diggers Hotline ticket is cleared and a site is located, a process which typically takes three days.

“Before you begin digging we will go over your project with you,” said Caflisch. “This is the time to be proactive!”’