Q. What is the Common Ground Alliance?
A. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a coalition of 1,400 excavators, locators, road builders, electric, telecommunications, oil, gas, railroad, One-Call Centers, public works, equipment manufacturing & suppliers, state regulators, insurance and engineering/design, and emergency services. Officially formed in 2000, CGA represents a continuation of the United States Department of Transportation's Common Ground Study. The study highlighted the need for one organization to continuously update best practices among the growing underground utility industry. The Common Ground Alliance was thus formed to assist in preventing damages to underground infrastructure, reduce service disruptions, save lives, and improve safety practices industry-wide through damage prevention programs and technology initiatives.
Q. What is 811?
A. 811 is a new national "Call Before You Dig" number designated by the FCC to help protect homeowners and professional excavators from injuries, expenses and penalties. This new national safety resource will make it easy for homeowners and professionals across the country to protect themselves by calling before beginning any digging project, whether it be something small like planting a tree or installing a mailbox or a larger project like building an addition or deck.
Q. How widespread is the problem of "not calling" in the country? How much damage and injury does it cause nationally?
A. A national survey showed that only 33% of homeowner do-it-yourselfers called to have their lines marked before starting digging projects. Simple digging jobs can damage utility lines, which can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm diggers, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Failure to call before a digging project results in nearly 700,000 underground utility damages annually – that's more than one unintentional hit per minute.
Q. When will the new 811 number be up and running?
A. The vast majority of the network will be in place May 1, 2007. It is customary for telecommunications services to be launched nationally even when they will not be operational for the entire country at launch; in fact, the well-known 911 service is still not available to 100% of Americans some 39 years after it was introduced.
Q. Who will answer the phone if I call 811? Where will they be located?
A. There are 62 One-Call Centers, or "Call Before You Dig" centers located around the country. The representatives at your local One-Call Center will answer the phone when you call to quickly and easily start the location process. Diggers will sill be able to contact their local One-Call Center through existing 800 #'s.
Q. Can you take me through the "behind-the-scenes" process of what happens once a person calls 811 to notify them of a digging project?
A. One free, easy phone call to 811 quickly begins the process of getting underground utility lines marked. Local One-Call Center personnel will record your information then notify affected utility companies, who will send locate crews to mark the approximate location of underground lines and ensure that digging is done safely.
Q. How will this new number change the process of digging for homeowners and industry?
A. 811 will dramatically improve the process of calling before digging. The new number is designed to eliminate the confusion of multiple "Call Before You Dig" numbers, save lives and protect the American underground infrastructure.
Q. How far in advance do I need to call 811 before the start of a digging project?
A. This varies from state to state – usually 72 hours prior to the excavation, but not more than 10 days.
Q. Is there really a need for this number? Doesn't everyone already know to call their local "Call Before You Dig" Center?
A. Those who dig are often aware of "Call Before You Dig" services, but make risky assumptions about where utility lines are buried or when they should call. In fact, a recent national survey showed that only 33% of homeowner do-it-yourselfers called to have their lines marked before starting digging projects. Simple digging jobs can damage utility lines, which can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm diggers, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. 811 will let diggers know what's below when they always call before they dig.
Q. What if lines aren't marked by the time you want to start?
A. Failure to have lines marked may result in damage to utility lines, service outages to entire neighborhoods, injury, and may potentially result in fines and repair costs. It is important to wait until your lines are marked, typically between 48 and 72 hours excluding weekends and legal holidays, before beginning any digging project.
Q. What could go wrong if we don't call 811 before digging?
A. Failure to call before digging results in more than one unintentional hit per minute, the consequences of which include injury, penalties, repair costs, fines and expensive and inconvenient service outages. Knowing where underground utility lines are buried before each digging project begins helps to prevent these unintentional service interruptions. The depth of utility lines may vary and multiple utility lines may exist in one area. Marked lines show those who dig the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences.
For more information, check out Call 811