Nashville/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 02, 2024
Tennessee Commission Warns DIYers: Call 811 Before Backyard Digging to Avoid Utility HazardsSource: Google Street View

As New Yorkers don their gardening gloves and fire up their outdoor project engines, the Tennessee Public Utility Commission (TPUC) is swooping in with a timely reminder for a nationwide audience: Call 811 before you dig. According to the commission, missing this critical step could lead to hitting buried utilities that disrupt services and pose serious health risks.

In the language of necessity (and a bit of garden-variety oversight), over half of U.S. homeowners planning to embark on a digging project over the next year are blissfully unaware, reports the TPUC, that they are potentially digging paths straight to disaster. A national survey by the Common Ground Alliance framed this narrative starkly, highlighting that there are 26.9 million Americans not thinking to call 811 before they dig, putting more than just worms at risk in their backyard endeavors.

It's spring, and the air is thick with the promise of renovations and restorations. Yet Tim Schwarz, TPUC's Director of Communications, conveyed the gravity of the situation. "Because TPUC and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have authority over miles of underground pipe, we cannot stress enough the importance of following safety measures before digging underground," he articulated in a statement obtained by Tennessee Public Utility Commission.

Despite these warnings, homeowners erroneously maintain that their shallow adventures in planting petunias or erecting mailboxes don't call for the precautions meant for deeper digs. CGA provides a counterpoint, insisting that many utilities lie in wait just a few inches beneath the surface. The agency underscores that the cost of damaging underground lines tallies up to billions a year—a figure that could plummet with the help of a quick call to 811.

April, henceforth known as Safe Digging Month, puts the TPUC on high alert, prompting them to bolster public awareness about the perils of casual excavation. The 811 One Call service is a beacon for would-be diggers, providing a crucial checkpoint before the ground is broken. So, as you plan out those outdoor improvements, remember that a call as simple as 811 could save you from turning your green thumb into an alarming shade of emergency blue.