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Homeowners, businesses reminded to dial before digging

Now that even the Upper Peninsula has warmed up, the urge to tackle major improvement projects kicks into high gear.

The Michigan Public Service Commission doesn’t want to dampen that drive to get things done. Yet it reminds state residents — from homeowners with backyard projects to businesses engaging in major construction — to make sure they have underground utilities marked by MISS DIG 811 well in advance.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order earlier this month allowing construction projects to resume after being put on hold as part of her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Construction can resume provided that employers adopt best practices to protect their workers from infection.

But before that work begins, it’s important to learn if buried utilities — including natural gas, telecommunications, electricity, water and sewer lines — might be within the construction zone.

MISS DIG 811, Michigan’s nonprofit statewide underground utility safety notification system, asks that anyone doing big or small projects that involve digging call 811 or fill out a request online at www.call811.com up to two weeks in advance to make use of the 14-day window allotted under state law.

Anyone excavating is required by law to contact MISS DIG 811 no later than 72 hours in advance so utilities can be marked by trained workers with spray paint or colored flags.

“If you know you’re going to dig in two weeks, don’t wait until 72 hours beforehand to contact MISS DIG 811,” said Bruce Campbell, CEO of MISS DIG System, Inc. “You can contact us two weeks in advance, which allows facility owners and their locators to be better prepared for increased volume in calls for locating underground utilities.”

Underground utility lines in Michigan are damaged during digging activities every year, causing service disruptions and putting lives and property at risk.

“No matter the size of the project, digging should only be done after a call to 811,” said MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “We strongly encourage Michiganders to help us do everything we can do to reduce the chances of people being injured or vital services being interrupted because someone struck underground utility lines.”

For more information, go to www.call811.com or check the MPSC’s consumer tip on safe digging. For information about the MPSC, go to http://www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the commission on Twitter.

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