For Release: 05/15/2013

Digging in the yard? "Call 8-1-1 first, dig second," says Minnesota Energy Resources

Rosemount, Rochester MN - Sprucing up the yard, starting a landscaping project or planting some trees, shrubs, flowers or a vegetable garden in the near future? Minnesota Energy Resources reminds everyone to first call the 8-1-1 Gopher State One Call hotline before any project involving digging begins.

The 8-1-1 Gopher State One Call is a coordinated, one call center that was established to keep everyone safe. Utility locate specialists will come to your home, locate and mark all underground utility services in your yard free of charge.

At least two working days are required for locates prior to beginning a digging project.

"Calling 8-1-1 is a state law and it requires notifying Gopher State One Call before you excavate, grade, trench, dig, drill, auger, tunnel, scrape or plow," said Jeff Larson of Minnesota Energy Resources. "Excavation means anything that moves, removes or displaces earth, rock or other material in or on the ground. Don't forget to leave an 18-inch buffer zone on each side of a marked facility," added Larson.

This includes installing fence posts, digging a post hole for your mailbox, posting temporary yard signs, pounding stakes for temporary party tents, building a deck, all require a call to 8-1-1 before your project begins.

Nationwide, a utility line is damaged once every three minutes and one-third of these incidents are caused by failure of the homeowner or professional excavator to call 8-1-1.

The misconception is most home owners think the 8-1-1 hotline only applies to contractors who use large construction-style power digging equipment. The unfortunate result, according to Larson, may be serious injuries and disruption to natural gas service to entire neighborhoods.

Minnesota Energy Resources has 4,500 miles of underground natural gas pipeline and about 203,800 lateral services going to homes and businesses in Minnesota. This year marks the 25th anniversary of excavation safety in Minnesota.

Call well in advance of your project start date to get locates done. Either dial 8-1-1 or submit a locate request through the email-a-locate system on line at Gopher State One Call http://www.gopherstateonecall.org/. Additional safety information is available on the Minnesota Energy Resources website http://www.minnesotaenergyresources.com/home/dig.aspx

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