Did you know that April is National Safe Digging Month? Digging before calling 811 to have underground utility lines marked can be dangerous and costly. Piedmont Natural Gas wants to help reduce damage to underground utility lines even as they rise across the nation.
Over the last year Piedmont Natural Gas is reporting an 8% decrease in damages in the Carolinas and Tennessee. They credit this decrease new damage prevention initiatives and increased public awareness campaigns.
Piedmont reported approximately 200 fewer damages to its underground lines in 2020 than in 2019. This success coincides with their adoption of the Gold Shovel Standard, a non-profit organization that promotes safe digging practices using standardized performance metrics. All contractors under PNG are required to be Gold Shovel Certified and remain in good standing with the program.
Calling 811 is a free nationwide service. Contractors, homeowners, businessowners and anyone preparing for a digging project of any kind should call 811 at least three business days before digging begins. The local utilities will then send a crew to mark underground lines in the area (electric, natural gas, water, sewer, phone, cable TV and others) with stakes, flags or paint.
Additionally, for the month of April 2021, Piedmont is testing geofencing – a technology that targets contractors by texting them an 811 safe digging reminder message as soon as they enter specific businesses that sell construction materials.
Piedmont reported 2,527 cuts to its underground natural gas lines in the Carolinas and Tennessee in 2019. In 2020, this number fell by 205 (about 8%) to 2,322 damages. In its most recent report, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) said there were 532,000 damages to underground facilities nationwide in 2019, compared to 509,000 in 2018. The CGA is a national organization that unifies all 50 states in a shared effort to prevent damage to underground utilities.
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