Water and Public Works crews gear up for NC811 “Call Before you Dig!” changes

The City of Asheville’s partnership with NC811 is a great way to keep people safe from injury and reduce damage to underground utilities by encouraging people to “Call Before You Dig.” Residents can call “811” and a technician will mark the underground utilities before digging begins.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared April 2014 as “Safe Digging Month,” and new legislation passed by the NC General Assembly goes into effect in October that increases accountability and the ability to track and find underground utilities. The City of Asheville is already preparing for the change.

In training session in April and May, the city’s Water Resources and Public Works Departments learned how the changes affect Asheville and the city’s performance as a partner with NC811.

“We want the transition to be seamless, and for our people to have the information they need to perform at the highest level of professionalism,” says Water Resources Operations Manager Ivan Thomas.

In fact, Thomas says, crews are already implementing the changes described in presentations given by NC811 representative Mark Schuman.

“For years, the City of Asheville has been a great partner in spreading the message of NC811: Always call before you dig, not only to protect you, but also the public. No job is ever too important to not take the time to perform safely,” Schuman says.

Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates says the changes back up the level of professionalism the division strives for.

“One of the incoming requirements is that all new stormwater facilities be made locatable,” Coates says. “This is a move that helps everyone – us, residents, developers and NC811. So we are glad to be moving forward and putting the new legislation into action.”

If you are planning an outdoor improvement project, safety starts before the shovel hits the dirt. Underground utility lines can be anywhere and accidentally running into one while digging could result in service outages, fines or even injury. Simply call 811 and technicians will mark underground utilities like water, sewer, power or phone lines for free before you even break ground.

The City of Asheville Water Resources and Public Works Department participate alongside many other utility providers in the area as part of the NC811 One Call service to locate and mark underground utility lines on your property so you don’t have to dig in the dark.

For more information, go to www.nc811.org or to www.ashevillenc.gov.