When the snow melts and the grass turns green again, homeowners often get the urge to begin working in the yard or garden. Maybe the husband and wife go to a nursery and select a tree to plant in the yard. Maybe they stop at Home Depot to look at the samples of wood fence to enclose the backyard. The kids would love to have a swing set or, better yet, a tree house. Each of these projects requires digging in the ground.
Have you ever thought about what is buried in the ground of a typical subdivision? Storm sewers, sanitary sewers, natural gas lines, electrical wires, telephone lines, cable wires, water lines. If the homeowner accidentally punctures or severs one of these underground lines, the results could be catastrophic.
State law requires that you notify JULIE at least two business days (excluding weekends and holidays) before any digging project regardless of the project size or depth. Even if you are digging in the same location as a previous project, you must notify JULIE.
To notify JULIE, call 8-1-1 or 1-800-892-0123. Call center agents are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no charge for this service. According to http://illinois1call.com, you will be asked to provide the following information when you call:
- Your name, address, a phone number at which you can be reached, an email address and a fax and/or pager number, if available
- The location of the excavation will take place, including county, city or unincorporated township, section and quarter section numbers if available, address, cross street (within ¼ mile), subdivision name, etc.
- Start date and time of planned excavation
- Type and extent of excavation involved
- Whether the dig area has been outlined with white paint, flags or stakes
You will be given a dig number that identifies specific information about your locate request. It is important that you keep this number as proof that you contacted JULIE.
JULIE does not own or mark underground lines. Instead, JULIE notifies the utility companies so that they can mark your property. The utilities use the following colors of flags, stakes, or paint to mark the underground lines:
- Red – Electric
- Yellow – Gas, oil or petroleum
- Orange – Communications
- Blue – Potable water
- Purple – Reclaimed water, irrigation
- Green – Sewer
- White – Proposed excavation
- Pink – Temporary go to https://survey
An underground line may actually be within 18 inches of either side of the marked line. This is called the tolerance zone. Use extreme care when digging within 18 inches on either side of the utility marking. Digging by hand is recommended within the tolerance zone.
—By Karen Centowski
To see a video called Digging Dangers 24: Strike Three! Excavation Accidents YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A53Qo1QIp3w.