While speaking with Director of Public Works Nick Williams during repairs to the water line at Tarleton last week, we learned that the city recently joined the 811 Call Before You Dig System.

The E-T did a Q&A with Williams to learn more about what the 811 system is, and why it’s important for homeowners, business owners and contractors:

Q: What exactly is the 811 system?

A: 811 is the phone number state law requires excavators to call before digging to protect themselves and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. 

Texas 811 is a state wide program with over 1,600 members playing a vital role in protecting underground utilities. This program provides home/business owners and contractors a central hub to call in or enter information online to notify professional utility locators (gas, water, sewer telecommunication and cable) of their intentions to dig.

By using Texas 811, the user is providing 48-hours (two working days) prior notification and choosing to “Dig Safely” by providing companies like Atmos, Oncor, Century Link, Northland Cable, city water/sewer and others the ability to locate any utility lines in the work site area to help prevent damages and delayed service, so everyday conveniences are not interrupted, and also to lower the risk of harm to the excavator, your family or your neighbors.

 Q: When did the city go on the 811 system?

A: The city of Stephenville joined Texas 811 in November. The city now receives notifications for all call-before-you-dig notifications within the city limits, as well as near well sites and pump stations and along water transmission lines located outside the city limits.

Class A utilities like gas and electric are required to be a part of the 811 notification system and although Class B utilities like water and sewer are not required by the state to be a part of the system, being a system member has proven to provide valuable information.

Q: What did people do before? 

A: Before Texas 811, homeowners/contractors would contact the individual utility companies for locates or rely on drawings, with hopes the drawings they were using were current and accurate. If a contractor was not from the area, it could be particularly frustrating to locate every potentially affected utility company, and more than likely one would get missed.

Texas 811 has created a sense of security by providing contractors with the ability to make one phone call or online submission to notify utility companies and allow professional locators to mark the approximate locations of lines.  Before the city joined the 811 system, many excavations took place without the city being notified resulting in damage to city lines. 

Q: Is this system free to use?

A: The service is free for homeowners. Simply dial 811 from your phone and you can provide the information over the phone.  There is also an online portal at www.texas811.org/homeowner that allows the homeowner to click on a map to provide the location of the dig site.  The service only costs the city 95 cents per notification and has proven to provide valuable safety information for the city, contractors and homeowners.

Q: Any other comments or suggestions for the people of Stephenville and Erath County you’d like to make?

A: I would just add – call every time you dig to ensure safety. The intent of the “Call before you dig” system is to allow utility owners that may be affected by the work or repair to mark the area and avoid damages and/or injuries. Everyone wants to go home safe at the end of the day.