Allowing time for underground utilities to be marked before digging can reduce injury and loss of service
TAMPA, August 11, 2020
August 11 is also known as 811 Day and serves as an important reminder for Florida residents and excavators to call 811 two business days before they start digging.
Tampa Electric reminds Floridians that the underground network of utility wires, cables and pipelines is often closer to the surface than one might think. Striking one of these underground utility lines could cause the loss of electric, natural gas, water or communications and cable services, injury or death, and could potentially result in fines and repair costs.
Calling 811 alerts utilities to mark underground equipment that could be damaged. All digging projects – from DIY tasks, such as landscaping or installing a mailbox, to larger projects requiring excavation equipment – require a call to 811.
While most digging projects are preplanned and easily allow time to call 811 two business days before starting, some digging work may be unexpected. After severe weather, homeowners are often faced with downed fences and uprooted trees. As part of their post-storm recovery plan, residents should plan to call 811 before removing trees and tree stumps or resetting fences. Don’t run the risk of losing essential services; have underground utilities marked.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a revised law into effect on July 1 that is expected to increase safety in our communities by strengthening “Call 811 before you dig” enforcement and accountability across the state. Residents and excavators could see increased penalties for damaged underground utilities and violations of the law. Penalties may apply when, for example, homeowners or excavators dig without calling 811, ignore the 24-inch tolerance zone, continue digging after damage has occurred, or remove any permanent utility markers required by law.
In addition to the increased penalties, the bill also expands enforcement authority to the state fire marshal and local fire chiefs, and it calls for fines to fund firefighter equipment and damage-prevention education.
One free, simple phone call to 811 or visit to sunshine811.com makes it easy for Sunshine 811 to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Here are some tips to remember:
• Call at least two full business days before digging to give utility companies enough time to properly mark their lines. When you call 811, you will be asked for the location and description of your digging project.
• Sunshine 811 notifies affected utility companies, who then send a professional locator to mark the approximate location of underground equipment for free.
• Check the Sunshine 811 Positive Response link at sunshine811.com, and, once all utilities have responded, dig carefully within 24 inches of any marks in your project area.
• E ven if you are not digging, remember to leave any markers – paint or flags – in place. They are a sign of work that may be coming soon to your area by a utility or contractor.
Visit sunshine811.com or tampaelectric.com for more information about safe digging.
Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 780,000 customers in West Central Florida. Tampa Electric is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
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