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Call 811 so you don't have to call 911

The weather is finally getting nice enough to get outside and do some yard work. Folks are planting trees, digging holes for fence posts or leveling their lot. Some have had to do some digging to repair sprinkler lines. This means lots of shovels or tractor buckets are breaking ground and possibly breaking water and/or gas lines or tearing up buried electrical lines.

There is a simple and free way to avoid the headaches that come with breaking or tearing up a line: for Kern county, call 811, (800) 642-2444 or go to the USA Digs website (www.usanorth811.org). This free service will provide you information you need to make sure your digging project doesn’t result in huge problems.

John Nelson, owner of John the Plumber, utilizes this service, especially when it comes to digging up septic tanks.

“Most of the time, when we are called out to inspect and certify a septic tank, we have no idea where the tank is located,” he said. “But even if we know where it is or determine where it is, we don’t always know where the utility lines are located. The only way to be safe when digging is to have USA Digs come out and mark the lines.”

The service is super easy to use. All you need to do is mark where you will be digging two days before you plan to start your project and then call 811 or go online to order the service.

John recommends taking photos or drawing a map of the lines on your property and saving them for future use yourself or a new owner. He points out that sewer lines won’t be marked as the owners of non-pressurized sewer lines do not have to be members of the regional notification center.

When asked about any close calls, John admits that there have been several.

“Sprinkler lines or rogue gas lines run by homeowners or private contractors are always tricky as USA Digs doesn’t mark those. For example, gas lines run to pool heaters or barbeques won’t be detected and marked. We had located a homeowner’s septic tank and were busy uncovering it when we discovered a gas line running directly over one of the septic tank lids. Luckily, we pay close attention while digging so our technician was able to expose the gas line without hitting it,” he said.

So, before your next digging job, contact USA Digs and while you’re at it, give thanks to the crew at John the Plumber for this great piece of information. And the next time you need a plumber, you know who to call: John the Plumber (661) 823-8031/(760) 373-7050.