Take Safe Digging Month seriously

We were informed by news release that Gov. Doug Burgum has proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month in North Dakota.

Seriously. Yes, seriously.

At first blush one might be tempted to cry “fake news.” But the release was legitimate – as is the real threat of digging underground without knowing what dangers lie below ground.

Too many people have been injured or killed by accidentally cutting into buried electrical lines. Too many cable and internet customers have been inconvenienced because cable was severed. Gas pipes, sewer and water lines can all be out of sight, out of mind when homeowners – even contractors – get in a rush to move dirt.

So what should you do before you dig?

According to the news release, the North Dakota Public Service Commission says you should call 8-1-1, North Dakota’s Call-Before-You-Dig number. It’s easy and it’s the law.

“North Dakota law requires anyone conducting an excavation to notify 8-1-1 at least two days in advance of digging. Personnel will be sent to mark the locations of the underground facilities, typically within a couple of days. The markings are valid for 21 days after they are placed. This process is coordinated through North Dakota One Call. The Public Service Commission’s role is to enforce the requirements of the state’s damage prevention laws and take action when violations are reported to the Commission. The PSC can levy a fine up to $25,000 per violation depending on severity.”

That is it in a nutshell; seems like common sense.

But what about those fines? Are they fake news?

Not according to the PSC. Since 2009, the PSC has taken action in 97 cases related to violations of the Call-Before-You-Dig law. In total, about $214,000 in fines have been assessed against companies or individuals who have violated the law.