FRANKFORT, Ky. (4/17/13) – Governor Steve Beshear has issued a proclamation designating April as “Safe Digging Month” in Kentucky.
“Kentucky has worked hard to improve awareness of the call-before-you-dig requirements in state law,” Gov. Beshear said. “But we still have far too many incidents of excavators hitting buried utility lines.”
By designating April as Safe Digging Month, Gov. Beshear said he hopes to promote and increase the use of the 811 statewide toll-free telephone number to request marking of buried utility lines
Kentucky Public Service Commission Chairman David Armstrong said that digging into buried lines is more than just a problem for utility companies.
“We have seen how such incidents can cause substantial damage to property and, in the case of electric and gas lines, severe injury or death,” Armstrong said. “Damaged lines also threaten public health and safety by interrupting vital services such as electricity, water or telephone.”
Despite efforts to promote the use of the 811 service, dig-ins continue to disrupt utility service, Armstrong said. For example, in February a cut telephone cable interrupted service to nearly 1,000 Campbell County customers, he said.
“Losing your telephone landline can compromise access to enhanced 911 emergency service,” Armstrong said. “That is much more than just an inconvenience if someone needs medical, fire or police assistance.”
In his proclamation, Gov. Beshear noted that April marks the sixth anniversary of the Federal Communication Commission’s designation of 811 as the nationwide call-before-you-dig number.
Excavation activities that can damage buried lines increase in the spring, he noted in the proclamation.
The 811 number was adopted as an easy-to-remember number to call to have utilities located prior to excavation. It replaced toll-free numbers that were unique to each state.
In 2008, Kentucky enacted a statute that expanded enforcement of laws requiring underground utility lines to be located and marked prior to most excavation or demolition activity.
Tim Vaughn, regulatory affairs director of Kentucky 811, the state’s call-before-you-dig center, said that protecting buried utility lines requires constantly reinforcing the message to call before you dig.
“Gov. Beshear’s efforts and the strong support of the Kentucky Public Service Commission help us immeasurably in our daily communications with utilities, contractors and the public,” Vaughn said.
Kentucky 811 is a voluntary organization with more than 340 members, including most of Kentucky’s largest utility service providers. A call to Kentucky 811 will result in location of underground facilities owned by its members.
Kentucky 811 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To obtain locations for underground facilities owned by utility service providers that do not belong to Kentucky 811, it is necessary to notify the company directly. A list of all owners of underground utility lines may be obtained from the county clerk.
More information about Kentucky 811 is available at its website, www.kentucky811.org.
The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky and has approximately 90 employees.
Information provided by Andrew MeInykovych
Photo provided by SurfKY Graphics
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