Call before you dig

Call before you dig.

Water Conservation as Simple as 811

The Texas Legislature will be taking a serious look at the water issue in the coming session.

Oil and water – they don’t mix, but we can’t live without either one of them.  While there has been a boom lately in Texas oil production, Texas water just isn’t flowing as freely.

The bitter truth is that Texas is fighting her way through a prolonged drought – in fact, this past September holds the record as the driest ever recorded.

Maybe you remember a tongue in cheek blog by Ron Smith here in Southwest Farm Press about unusual solutions to solving our state’s water supply issues.  Among them was a proposal that every time the A&M football team travels out of state to places like Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, each player, coach, manager, cheerleader, mascot, band member and fan will be required to bring back a bottle of water. Five or six away games a year, said Ron, and that begins to add up.

In reality, the Texas Legislature will be taking a serious look at the water issue in the coming session – but until then, every drop counts and every conservation measure must be taken by all of us.

You’re familiar with the conservation methods you can see – protecting your above-ground water lines, irrigation systems and storage tanks as best you can against leaks and evaporation. But what are you doing to protect what’s underground?  It’s as easy as dialing the number 811 from your phone.

Texas state law and Texas Administrative Code both require a call to 811 any time the earth will be disturbed at a depth of 16 inches or greater.  However, you should make the call no matter how deep the excavation.  Many lines aren’t buried 16 inches deep.  Typical everyday farming and ranching chores such as fencing, terracing, ditching, watershed projects, sprinkler and specific tillage operations are all examples of when a call to 811 should be made. Vital fiber optic lines may be buried in turn rows or fence lines, and transmission pipelines that carry water or hazardous and volatile liquids could run across your property. One free and simple call to 811, at least 48 hours - two working days -prior to beginning your project can get those buried utilities identified.

During that time, utility companies or their representatives will come to your location to paint mark and/or flag your work area.  The colors used and what they stand for are: Red/Electric, Yellow/Gas, Orange/Telecommunications, Blue/Water and Green/Sewer. Once that is done, you can dig confidently and safely.

For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.

It is important to remember, though, that customer-owned lines on private property – such as water and sewage service lines from the meter to the house or business, sprinkler systems and any power or gas lines connecting buildings from your meter –may not be in the one call database. The utility owners DO NOT know the locations of these lines, so it is your responsibility to identify them.  Additionally, some water utility systems are not yet registered with the 811 system, and their lines may not show up in a search. Investigate carefully and dig by hand if that is the case.

Let’s face it.  There are plenty of daily headaches involved in running a water delivery system in Texas: things like aging infrastructure leading to broken pipes, pump stations that fail, parched ground that flexes pipe, and certainly no rain falling from the skies – the list goes on.  And these will happen no matter what we do.

Damage prevention

What you DON’T need to be is the person punching a hole in a water pipe – because you didn’t know it was there.  And that’s something you can control.

Texas811 is, from top to bottom, a Damage Prevention Organization.

In fact, statewide damage prevention is the reason Texas811 was founded in 1984, and why we exist today. We’re a non-profit, member directed corporation, and our utility operator members and the citizens they serve benefit from Texas811’s unparalleled damage prevention services all across Texas.

That protection only works for our state if you help us notify the contractors and excavators before you break ground on a project.

No one digs more dirt than Texas farmers and ranchers. Do it safely by calling 811 before you dig – it’s not only free and easy, it’s the law.

Remember these steps to take two working days before you start digging.

  1. Dial 811 and tell us about your project including location and what is being done, as well as all necessary instructions to make sure the right area gets marked. We accept GPS coordinates if available along with detailed driving directions.
  2. Texas811 will tell you which facility operators will be notified about your excavation near their underground lines.  We’ll provide a reference number that serves as proof of your call. We also keep a complete record of your call to verify your compliance with the law.
  3. The facility operators respond by marking their buried lines or other response
    as they determine necessary, and you will be able to work safely without delay.
  4. Begin your project knowing that you are utilizing safe excavation practices while preserving vital services, protecting property and saving lives!

Protecting and conserving Texas’ water supply through safe excavation begins with you.

Together, we can keep the water flowing in the Lone Star State.

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