FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Nov. 4, 2019
The Michigan Public Service Commission has been awarded a grant of $100,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to enhance the MISS DIG 811 underground pipeline damage prevention program.
The MPSC will use the grant money for education and awareness through MISS DIG 811, the non-profit organization that operates the free statewide underground utility notification system.
The grant will allow MISS DIG 811 educators to travel to areas with higher damage rates to educate, train and provide awareness to school-aged children, the public, excavators and facility locators and owners.
Additionally, the grants will allow the purchase of a customized van and trailer, booklets, promotional materials, a generator and a TV to create a traveling learning station designed to educate Michigan families and children about the importance of calling 811 before any excavation.
“Hitting utility lines with a shovel, backhoe or other equipment can have deadly consequences and interrupt vital utility service,” said MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “We’re pleased to use this grant to further educate Michiganders about how critical it is for them to dial 811 before they dig. Each year thousands of utility lines are damaged because individuals and contractors don’t call ahead, even though it’s required by law and saves lives.”
The focus of the funding will be on homeowners, who annually account for more than 25% of damage to underground utility lines each year. MISS DIG 811 will target schools and trade shows to reach homeowners in the areas of the state with the highest numbers of damage incidents, which include Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in southeast Michigan and Kent County in west Michigan.
Measured by the number of leaks caused by excavation damage per 100 miles of pipeline, Michigan performed better than the national average every year in the 2010-2018 timeframe. Still, there were 4,054 excavation damage incidents to pipelines statewide in 2018, each representing danger to the public.
PHMSA’s State Damage Prevention grants are designed to not only establish comprehensive state programs to prevent excavation damage to underground pipeline facilities, but also to improve damage prevention programs in states like Michigan where these programs already exist.
Effective, efficient damage prevention programs are essential to protecting the nation’s pipeline transportation system and for improving public safety. State Damage Prevention grants encourage states to incorporate elements associated with effectively preventing damage to underground utilities, according to PHMSA.
For more information about MISS DIG 811, go to www.missdig.org.
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