Empowering Communities

Spring into Action for Spring Gardening: Dial Before You Dig

April 13, 2017

Springtime is the best time to get your hands dirty in your yard. All across northern Illinois, gardeners and landscapers will start getting busy sprucing up yards to prepare for a summer of fun.

Before you pick up your shovel, you should pick up your phone and call 811, the Illinois One Call System, to have all of your utility-owned underground lines marked before you dig. You don’t want to start planting a tree only to realize that you’ve knocked out power to your entire block.

“Customers called in a record 1.2 million new projects and renewals of ongoing projects last year,” says Kelley Heinz, senior claims case manager, ComEd. “We encourage customers to call at least two business days prior to starting their project to give workers time to visit the property to mark the underground facilities.”

April is National Safe Digging Month and ComEd wants to remind its customers to play it safe by calling 811 before they start a digging project, no matter how large or small. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and installing a patio are all examples of digging projects for which a call to 811 should be one of the first steps. A simple phone call can prevent striking an underground electric line causing serious injury, damages, and service interruptions.

ComEd manages more than 30,000 circuit miles of underground electric lines in northern Illinois, most of which cross through residential neighborhoods. In addition to ComEd’s lines, there are underground communications cables, water and sewer lines, and other utilities.  Even properties that are not served by a particular service may still have utility lines running below ground.

When calling 811, customers and contractors are connected to JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) to provide information about their project. JULIE will notify all member utilities, like ComEd, of the plan to dig. The utilities will then go to the customer’s digging location to mark the underground facilities. In the city of Chicago, customers can call 312-744-7000 to be put in touch with Digger, Chicago’s JULIE program.

Here are some tips to follow when planning to dig:

  1. Call JULIE before you dig.
  2. Tell JULIE where on you property you plan to dig (closest cross street) and how deep you are planning to dig.
  3. Be specific about the type of work you are doing on your property – installing a deck or planting a tree or garden, etc.
  4. Even if you plant your garden in the same place every year, you should still call to make sure it’s ok to dig. Boring technology enables energy companies to install new lines underground less visibly to customers, so you may not be aware of changes under your garden plot.
  5. Not matter how big or small the job – you still need to make that call.
  6. If you have any questions, call the damage prevention hotline anytime at 630-691 4759.
  7. If you think you’ve damaged an underground electrical line, call ComEd at 1-800-Edison-1 and call JULIE at 811.