Every August 11 the date itself reminds us to call 811 before digging. We have seen several items in the news recently about ruptured gas lines and the destruction they can cause. Property has been damaged and an equipment operator was injured when he struck a two-inch gas line.
WV811 is a free service that coordinates with utilities to locate underground pipes and wires before you put a shovel in the ground. You are legally required to call 811 at least 48 hours before you excavate.
The One Call law is enforced by the West Virginia Damage Prevention Board (DPB). The Public Service Commission is an active member of the DPB.
The DPB aggressively investigates every reported violation of the 811 law and, although relatively new, has taken 18 actions to date. Anyone can report an alleged violation by going to www.WVDPB.com, clicking on “Report Violation” and filling out the form. A board member who represents WV811 will first check to see if a WV811 ticket was issued for the work. If not, the report is forwarded to the full board for review. The Board will contact the parties involved and collect all the pertinent information. Then a determination is made as to whether there was a violation.
For a first offence, the violator will receive a letter that explains the law and the nature of their violation. They will be required to watch an instructional video and to pay a $25 fine. The goal is more to educate than to punish. If there are repeat violations, the size of the penalties will increase. Violators may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 per incident.
If you do strike an underground utility line, call 911 immediately. It is vital that you do not attempt to make repairs to utility lines on your own. Repairs that are not properly made and documented by the utility company can cause even bigger problems in the future.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so always call 811 before you dig.