Call 811 Before You Dig Article by Bill Lopez
I would like to introduce myself and provide a little clarification to your article that appeared in the Clearwater Gazette on June 19th.
My name is Brian Dean and I am the West Region Damage Prevention Liaison for Sunshine State One Call of Florida. We are a not-for-profit corporation formed by the Florida State Legislature in 1993 to administer the Underground Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556 F.S. We are the statewide notification center that notifies all utility owners when digging is scheduled. In short, we are the “Call before You Dig” people. The notification number is now simply 811.
Your article states that anyone digging in Clearwater needs to call the Public Utilities Department at 562-4960. Actually Chapter 556 requires anyone digging anywhere in the state of Florida to call 811 two business days before digging. By calling 811, all utilities including the city of Clearwater will be notified. By only calling the Public Utilities Department number, important utilities such as Clearwater Gas and Florida Power may not be notified. By not calling 811, excavators are in great risk of causing damage to utilities and potentially personal injury.
Underground utilities are everywhere and are vital to public safety and business. These utilities include telecommunication lines, electric power, natural gas, oil, water, sanitary sewer, and water. Sunshine State One Call of Florida is committed to protecting those utilities and the public. “Call 811 Before You Dig” is not just a catchy phrase, it is the law. Violation of the law can result in citations that cost $250 to as much as $5000 per violation. The possible citations are in addition to liability for causing damages to utilities.
I appreciate the city council for addressing this issue at the commission meeting. I do wish I had known of the meeting so I could have advised them of the 811 message. I have recently provided a public service announcement to the City that presents the 811 message. That PSA should be airing on the government channel soon. I am also available to give presentations to any interested audience.
If you have any question, do not hesitate to call.
- Brian Dean Damage Prevention Liaison, West Florida Region, Sunshine State One Call of Florida, Inc. Office: (727) 669-5747 Cell: (727) 424-7778, Fax: (386) 575-2047.
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