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Governor Whitmer, MPSC urge Michiganders to call MISS DIG 811 before digging as state marks Safe Digging Month

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Sunshine and warmer temperatures may be tempting Michiganders to begin backyard improvements or even bigger construction projects. But every year, underground utilities are damaged thousands of times because people don’t do the first thing everyone should before putting a shovel in the ground: Call MISS DIG 811 to have buried utilities marked for safety.

April is National Safe Digging Month, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a proclamation marking the month in Michigan. Governor Whitmer, the Michigan Public Service Commission and MISS DIG 811, the state’s underground utility locator, urge anyone planning a project involving digging to call 811 at least three business days (72 hours) in advance to ensure underground utilities aren’t damaged, leading to dangerous and potentially deadly consequences, no matter the size of an excavation project.

The call to MISS DIG 811 is free and ensures buried gas, electric, water and sewer, phone and other underground utilities are clearly marked before digging projects begin.

“Calling MISS DIG 811 before you begin a digging project helps prevent underground utility lines from being damaged, leading to possible service outages, injuries or deaths,” MPSC Chair Dan Scripps said. “Call 811 anytime you have a project that involves excavation, whether you’re a homeowner digging for a new backyard fence or planting a tree, or a construction crew preparing for a big project.”

Nearly 60% of American homeowners plan a home improvement project involving digging in the next 12 months, and 49% of them won’t call 811 ahead of time, according to a recent survey by Common Ground Alliance, a national association dedicated to preventing damage to buried utility infrastructure. The alliance encourages homeowners to plan ahead, and make a request by calling 811 on a Monday or Tuesday so there’s plenty of time for utilities to be marked for the weekend DIY project.

Call 811 at least three days before digging or fill out a request online at Trained workers from utility companies will be sent to job sites to mark the location of utilities with spray paint or flags. Anyone planning to dig is asked not to do so until utilities are marked, and to carefully dig by hand in the designated utility area.

“Contacting MISS DIG 811 before you dig is free and easy, and it’s the law,” said Bruce Campbell, CEO of MISS DIG System Inc. “This simple, required step can help keep you and your neighbors safe and prevent damage to underground utilities.”

More information is available in the MPSC’s tip sheet on MISS DIG 811 and safe digging.

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