Spring into Safe Digging Month

April 7, 2016

In South Dakota, spring is the season to welcome warmer weather and longer days. For many, it’s also the time to begin projects to spruce up outdoor spaces. With spring in full swing, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board remind residents to contact South Dakota 811 a few days before beginning any digging project and request that underground utilities be marked.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has emphasized the importance of this step to South Dakotans by proclaiming April to be Safe Digging month. South Dakota law requires excavators and homeowners to contact South Dakota 811 at least two working days before beginning a digging project. Whether you’re building a house, putting up a fence or preparing a new garden, notifying South Dakota 811 is an important step to ensure your safety.

“With any outdoor construction project, contacting 811 is a simple and essential first step,” said PUC Chairman Chris Nelson. “A simple phone call can help prevent injuries, property damage and interruptions to the utility services that we all depend on.”

Uneven surfaces, erosion and previous digging projects can all cause the depths of utility lines to vary and change over time, enhancing the risk of hitting an underground utility. For this reason, every digging project warrants a call to 811. The only exceptions are gardening up to 12 inches deep and field tillage up to 18 inches deep. Striking even a single line can result in injury and utility outages, as well as some expenses in the form of repair costs and fines.

The South Dakota 811 center received a total of 142,100 requests to locate utility lines in 2015. As a result, 808,693 locate tickets were dispatched to utility companies across the state.  With an increase of more than 8,100 requests from 2014, more South Dakotans are utilizing the South Dakota 811 program than ever before.

“Our main goal is to ensure the safety of South Dakota residents. Following the South Dakota 811 process is a very simple and effective way to reach that goal,” said South Dakota One Call Board President Dan Kaiser, CenturyLink senior manager from Sioux Falls. “Call before you dig, be mindful of the marks and dig with care.”

South Dakota 811 is a free service. Homeowners and excavators with upcoming, outdoor construction projects must contact the South Dakota 811 center 48 hours before digging, excluding weekends and holidays. The center will then quickly notify all affected utility companies of your upcoming excavation plans and utility companies will dispatch crews to mark the underground lines at the respective dig site. Excavators should carefully plan their digging projects to ensure adequate time for notification to South Dakota 811 as part of their schedule.

In previous years, South Dakota 811 was available through the phone or web. To make the process as simple as possible, there are now more notification options. The South Dakota 811 mobile app allows you to quickly and conveniently complete the 811 form wherever you are. The South Dakota Homeowner Portal, accessible from www.SD811.com, enables online locate requests.

To learn more about 811 and safe digging practices and to download the free South Dakota 811 mobile app, visit www.SD811.com.