By Charlotte Lane, Public Service Commission chairman
Does a person know that even before one digs a garden or plants a shrub, one needs to find out if a utility line is buried in the path? Any digging requires a person to contact West Virginia 811 to get clearance ahead of time.
It’s easy to do. Simply dial 811 or go online to WV811.com. The Public Service Commission partners with this service for one’s safety and that of the utilities. State law says that a person may be held responsible for damage done to a utility line if one doesn’t clear a dig request with WV811 ahead of time.
Not long ago, the writer called 811 herself to verify that it is a simple procedure and that the message is easy to understand and to follow. She can verify that it is. After a brief informational message, one will be connected to a person who will take the information and help one through the process.
Calls must be made at least 48 hours, but not more than 10 days, before one begins digging. Remember to take weekends and holidays into account.
All calls to the center are recorded. At the end of the message, one will be given a 10-digit code. Be sure to write it down because that is proof that one did call about a planned dig.
The person doing the excavation must make the call and the authorization is not transferrable. That means one person cannot get the authorization and then pass on that approval to a second person.
The call center advises the caller to identify the proposed excavation site with white paint or little flags. They use the information to advise utility operators that they need to mark any buried utility lines on one’s property within the area a person has outlined. The 811 center says up to eight utility operators are notified about each request that is made. A person needs to give the utility operators a few days to send out the locators to mark their lines.
Respect the boundary markers to avoid cutting into an underground utility line. If there is a conflict, contact 811 again and ask for a re-mark. Also, contact the service if the dig will take longer than expected.
Making this simple, free call is good for oneself and good for the utilities. And it’s the law.