Sentinel Grove Cottage | Home improvement security requires ‘8-1-1’ calls

In 2019, more than $30 billion in damage was caused to utility infrastructure across the United States — to natural gas lines, telecommunications facilities and other public assets — by excavations. capricious. Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a nationwide partnership of utility providers, released its most recent findings in its 2020 DIRT report, or Damage Information Reporting Tool report.

A recent national public opinion survey of homeowners, conducted by the CGA, found that 58% of homeowners in the United States plan to complete a home improvement project that involves digging in the next 12 months. Of that number, 49% will unknowingly risk damaging utility infrastructure for an easily avoidable reason.

The DIRT report found that there were approximately 442,898 cases of damage to underground utilities that occurred in the United States in 2019. Of those, 2,199 occurred in Oregon. Failure to request services to locate underground utilities by calling the state-designated “8-1-1” hotline has been identified as the primary cause of damage.

The state’s natural gas system was the most affected type of utility during this period, accounting for 41% of the total damage. Next is the telecommunications sector, which accounted for 28.5% of the state’s underground utility damage for the year. It should also be noted that the type of “digging” referred to here includes everything from preparing garden beds and digging fence post holes to commercial excavation work requiring backhoes and other big machines.

To address this problem, the Oregon Legislature created a state agency called the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) in 1995. Its purpose, as defined on the agency’s website (www.digsafelyoregon.com), is “to operate and maintain a state-of-the-art one-call system for the State of Oregon to reduce damage to underground utilities and promote public safety related to excavation issues “.

“Compliance with the requirements of Oregon’s excavation laws is vital to the safety of underground facilities, workers and the public,” added OUNC.

The OUNC and utility companies like NW Natural are proponents of promoting information about Oregon’s excavation laws and call issues before you dig.

With summer in full bloom around us, homeowners and contractors across the Northwest are undertaking a higher volume of outdoor digging or excavation projects. In a recent press release submitted to the SentinelNW Natural shared that he wanted this to take this opportunity to stress the importance of calling 8-1-1 to locate underground utility lines at least two business days before the start of any project involving to dig.

“Oregon homeowners should call 8-1-1 to request utility locator service if they are working on their own property and plan to dig 12 inches or more into the ground,” NW Natural wrote, “and all contractors are required to call 8-1-1, regardless of depth. This is especially important when dealing with natural gas lines, which cannot be installed more than 18 inches deep. depth… It’s the law, it’s free and it’s the only way to know for sure where underground utilities are located on a property.

NW Natural reported responding to 26 incidents in Lane County last year where natural gas lines were unexpectedly encountered or damaged while digging. In its territory of Oregon and southwest Washington, a total of 639 incidents have occurred, 500 of which involved broken pipes with natural gas leaks.

“Those found responsible for damaging a utility line can face costly repairs and fines,” the NW Natural press release warned, “but the damage…is preventable.

“In addition to calling 8-1-1, the locate request process is easier than ever with the Online Locate Request Tool. Oregon Utility Notification Center… and is available on digsafelyoregon.com/resources/locate-requests/.”

NW Natural said it also has a team of employees dedicated to educating contractors and residents in damage prevention efforts. With the launch of its official damage prevention program in 2006, it is said to have reduced damage by approximately 70% over the past 15 years. Last year, the utility company became the first Oregon-based gas utility to earn a Gold shovel support certification for its commitment to continuous improvement in damage prevention. Gold Shovel Association is a national, nonprofit organization focused on improving safety by providing meaningful damage prevention certifications and standardized performance measures.

“Still, there is a lot of work to be done,” said NW Natural, “If all else fails, report the damage immediately by calling NW Natural at 1 (800) 882-3377. No damage is too small for you. be reported, including gouges, scrapes and dents If you smell natural gas while digging, leave the area and then call 9-1-1 and NW Natural to report the leak.

“The easiest and most cost-free way to avoid excavation-related damage is to call 8-1-1 to request locator service in advance. For more information, visit www.nwnatural.com/safety/call-before-you-dig.”

Bonny J. Streater