The RRC’s mission to protect neighborhoods around Texas extends to helping residents and excavators identify the vast network of underground utilities they need to pay attention to.
Pipelines and other important underground utilities can easily be severed when unsuspecting individuals dig haphazardly, potentially risking harm. The RRC works with Texas 811 to highlight the critical importance of calling 811 before digging.
Calling 811 is required by law. By doing so, utility locators will come to your property free of charge and mark areas that should not be dug into. Today, Aug. 11, is the National 811 Day, a reminder of the value of the service.
Since the Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention program started on Sept. 1, 2007, the state has made significant progress in reducing incidents resulting in pipeline damage. Pipeline damage is not as common as it used to be because people are calling before digging. In 2008, there were 6.44 pipeline damage incidents per 1,000 requests to locate underground utilities. In 2020, the number has dropped to 2.5 incidents per 1,000 requests to locate.
Throughout the year, RRC staff attends outreach to ensure the public understands the law and avoids tragic encounters with pipelines. Staff has attended 51 such events, virtually or in-person, so far this fiscal year.
“While pipelines are the safest means to transport hydrocarbons, they must remain intact to efficiently carry out their intended purpose,” said Ryan Hejl, the Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention Manager. “It’s not just pipelines that could be under the ground at people’s homes. There could also be water and sewer lines, electric cables, and other utilities. It’s better to call 811 before moving a bunch of dirt and potentially hurting yourself.”
Texas homeowners, excavators, and contractors are required to call 811 at least two days before digging. The caller tells the location of the dig, and affected pipeline and utility companies in the area will send locators to the dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.
A request to locate can also be made via the Texas811 website at https://www.texas811.org/.