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Reminder: Dig safely and avoid damaging underground utility lines 

propane Paso Robles

Central Coast Propane reminds locals to dig and plant safely this fall

–Fall and spring are busy times for gardening, landscaping, and other projects that require digging. Central Coast Propane in Paso Robles is reminding the public to dig safely and avoid damaging underground utility lines, septic connections, and water pipes.

Digging without knowing the location of underground utility lines can damage gas, electric, communication, water, and sewer lines, cause neighborhood evacuations, service interruptions, serious injuries and costly repairs.

Taking a few safety precautions before putting that shovel in the dirt can make a difference between damaging underground utility lines and getting the project done on time.

  1. Call 811 at least two days before digging. This is the national call-line for utility companies and California law requires this number be called before starting any digging project.
  2. Mark the area you intend to dig with white spray paint, chalk, flour, stakes or flags.
  3. The utility companies use colored flags, stakes or paint to mark underground lines in the defined work area. Leave the utility marks in place until you are finished. The marks are valid for 28 days.
  4. Use only hand tools, such as shovels or manual post hole diggers.
  5. Stay within the 24-inch zone of the utility company markers.
  6. Carefully backfill and compact the soil at the end of the project.

Safety first

Gas pipeline leaks can happen when a gas line is broken or damaged during digging. A leaking pipe can lead to evacuations, service outages, property damage or serious injury. If any of the following are noticed take immediate safety precautions:

  • Smelling a rotten egg odor
  • Hissing, whistling or roaring sounds coming from the ground or gas appliances.
  • Dirt spraying into the air, water bubbling in ponds or creeks, or dead vegetation in a damp area
  • Be safe and immediately evacuate the area then call 911 and notify the utility company.

How 811 works

Calling 811 connects the caller to a one-call center, which notifies the member utility companies of the intent to dig. The utility companies involved arrive within two business days to locate and mark the approximate locations of any underground facilities or notify you that they have no facilities at your address. The locations within the designated work area are marked with flags or spray paint.

For additional information about digging safely, visit the PG&E website.

Calling 811 does not apply to private gas or water lines.

How to locate private gas, water or septic lines

Rural property, and sometimes even older properties on the edge of some city limits, might be on private septic systems, wells, and propane tanks. If you are not sure where these lines run, contact a private underground utility locator that serves your area

If maps of private underground facilities are not available, underground facility locators use a range of specialized tools that include electromagnetic equipment, ground penetrating radar (GPR), and electronic or radio frequency pipe and cable locating tools. You also get an updated map showing the locations of all lines, even old abandoned lines.

Resources for finding a company specializing in underground utility location includes the North County Access directory, recommendations from local utility companies, or an Internet search such as “underground utility locator for Paso Robles.” Your propane, septic, or well company may also have recommendations.

Central Coast Propane is a local Paso Robles company that provides residential commercial, and agricultural propane services to the Central Coast. The company also provides propane tanks, installation and underground gas lines as well as important safety information on the website.

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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.