Spring is here, grab those gloves and shovels but first…call 811

You may have seen them, the first indicators of spring, Bluebonnets, growing all around our city. Every year at this time people can be seen seeking out a pristine spot to take pictures of their kids or pets next to that perfect backdrop of what became the official Texas State flower in 1901.   A time of year when the weather is fair and outdoor activities rule the afternoons. By now, nurseries are overrun with weekend gardeners looking for that perfect shrub or tree to fill in that empty spot in their yard.

Soon, homeowners will sink shovels into the ground carving out the perfect sized hole for their qualifying Green Shade Tree.   But wait, are we missing something? Perhaps something more important than a lush landscape? Yes, the required call to 811.

Making a quick call to 811 before digging for any home improvement project such as landscaping, installing a mailbox or putting up a new fence can prevent damage to underground utility lines and keep you safe. Not only is calling 811 free, it’s the law. If you damage underground wires, pipes or cables because of not calling, you could be subject to fines. You should call 811 at least 2-business days before putting a shovel in the ground.

To bring awareness to this very important first step, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, the U.S. Department of Transportation and most governors have proclaimed April as National Safe Digging month. That’s right, an entire month dedicated to homeowner safety. Results from a recent national survey indicate that 42 percent of homeowners who plan to dig, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 811.

So how can you keep from being one of those 42 percent, simple, just follow these steps:

  • Always call 811 at least 2 days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked. 
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit for complete info.
  • Know the tolerance zones –defined as ½ the diameter of the pipe plus 18 inches.  If not identified, assume the under ground pipe is six inches.

So, there you have it, some helpful advice to help keep you safe as you beautify your yards. Keeping you safe is a real priority for us. When it comes to ensuring your plants, shrubs or other vegetation grow tall, strong and colorful, we’ll leave that to you and your green thumbs.

John Moreno

John is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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