Call 811 to locate utility lines before digging

Warmer weather brings people outside to start digging for a number of reasons. Because of that, an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.

Whether planting a tree or having a professional install an irrigation system, whoever is doing the digging must call South Carolina 811 to have underground utilities marked and located before any excavation work begins. Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages.

Once the number is called, the appropriate utility companies will be notified, and professional locators will be dispatched to the designated digging site to mark underground lines with flags, paint or both.

Here's what those colored marks mean:

. Yellow: natural gas or petroleum pipeline

. Red: electric

. Orange: communications or telephone/CATV

. Blue: potable water

. Green: sewer or drainage

. White: pre-mark site of intended excavation

"There's no charge for using SC811, but you need make the call three working days in advance of your excavation project," said SCE&G Distribution Engineering Manager Gus Chapman. "By calling 811, you're making a decision that helps keeps you and your neighbors safe."

The depth of underground utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces, and the risk of striking an underground utility still exists even when digging only a few inches, Chapman said.

"We're committed to the safety of the public we serve, and we urge you to do your part by dialing 811 before digging," he said.

For more information about digging safely around underground gas lines, go to

www.sceg.com/safety, and for more information about SC811, visit www.sc1pups.org

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