Sunday, 8/11, serves as a natural reminder for all customers and contractors to call 811 to have utility-owned underground lines marked before digging.  Nationwide, every six minutes someone damages an underground utility line because of digging without first calling 811, according to the Common Ground Alliance, the national association that promotes the 811 phone number and safe digging practices.

Striking an underground electric or natural gas line can cause serious injury, damages and service interruptions.  Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811.  Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects where a call to 811 should be one of the first steps.  Customers and contractors also are required to call 811 before clearing blocked sewer lines to determine if any utility lines are nearby as well.

PECO has more than 9,000 circuit miles of underground electric lines, 13,000 miles of natural gas distribution and service lines, and another 9 miles of natural gas transmission lines buried throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.  In addition to PECO’s lines, there are underground communication cables, water and sewer lines, and other utilities  Even properties that are not served by a particular service may still have utility lines running below ground.

When calling 811, customers and contractors are connected to PA One Call, the state’s coordinator for utility line marking.  PA One Call will collect information about the project and provide it to PECO and other member utilities.  The utilities will then mark their underground facilities.  Calls are required at least three business days in advance of digging.

Once lines are located, customers and contractors doing work also must understand the markings and look for evidence of unmarked lines, such as water and sewer lines on private property.  Sewer clean-outs and water valve covers are examples of equipment that can indicate the presence of underground lines.

PECO joins the Exelon family of utilities in recognizing National Call Before You Dig Day and is a member of the Common Ground Alliance to share best practices to promote safe excavation and decrease instances of damage to underground lines.  The company also provides customers and local contractors with important information about safety around overhead and underground utility lines through mailings, customer newsletters, social media and advertising.

To learn more, visit peco.com/safety.