Warmer weather and thawed ground means that Iowa homeowners, contractors and government workers are digging into more outside projects. Many Iowa property owners are likely eager to repair trees, mailboxes, fences, decks and other structures damaged by last summer's derecho.
Alliant Energy urges Iowans to call 811 before they dig to avoid having to call 911 due to injury. 811 is a free service. When you call, a professional will mark your yard for buried utilities. The average yard contains a number of different buried utilities ranging from natural gas lines to internet cables. If you dig without knowing what's below, you might hit something.
"2020 was a big year for outdoor projects and calls to 811, due to people spending extra time at home during the pandemic," said Richard Sublett, senior manager of compliance and operational performance for Alliant Energy. "With the derecho recovery ongoing and the pandemic still lingering, we expect 2021 to be an even bigger year for digging."
When you call 811, the operator will notify local utility companies where and when you want to dig. Within a few days, a locator will mark the approximate location of underground lines, pipes and cables in your yard with spray paint and flags. Once you know what's below, you can dig safely. Call 811 before you plant trees, install a mailbox, put in a fence or start any other project that requires digging.
Safety should always be the number one reason to call 811 before you dig. It's also state law. If you don't call, you could be fined. If you damage a utility, the owners could also impose charges. Digging into an underground line could cause a gas, water, electric, cable or internet service outage over a large area.
Any person who hits a line while digging should assume they have caused damage. Report the incident immediately to 811. Alliant Energy will be notified if electric or gas lines are involved. We will repair any damage so buried lines stay safe.
"Safety is a top priority for our customers and employees," said Sublett. "We hope customers, contractors and others put safety as their top priority, too."
You must call 811 a few business days before you plan to dig. Check out alliantenergy.com/811 for more information.