More people hitting utility lines while digging; NIPSCO urges to call first

NOW: More people hitting utility lines while digging; NIPSCO urges to call first


NIPSCO is urging homeowners in St. Joseph to call 811 before digging. More people are striking gas lines, putting themselves and others in danger, because they don’t know where utility lines are before they dig.

NIPSCO says several calls come in every week about people hitting utility lines. Almost half of those hits were preventable according to the company.

The law requires anyone planning to dig more than a few inches to call 811 before starting.

That phone call should take about five minutes. The caller is asked for the address of the planned dig site and what is planned to be done there.

What happens when someone doesn’t call 811 and then hits a utility line?

“It becomes an emergency for us. The fire department comes out, our servicemen come out. And if we have to dig it up, there’s that time in between where you’ve got gas releasing that’s a danger to the public,” said Luke Bradley, operations manager at NIPSCO.

Any time gas is released there is a possibility of ignition or explosion.

It can be hard to know where the lines are.

“Everybody thinks that it’s out in front of the street. But we have easements behind houses, it could be feed out of the alley way coming up to your house, so you really have to call in and get things located to see where you’re at,” said Bradley.

But hitting the lines can be avoided easily by calling 811 or going to this website.

A professional utility line locator will come to the dig site within 48 hours of the call and mark the lines with paint and flags.

If the call was never made, and a line is hit, the person responsible could face some serious bills.

“Every bit of billing that’s stacked up or any service they’ve lost at that time, you’d be paying for,” said Derek Nichols, supervisor for Utiliquest in Laporte County.

In addition to those fees, you would also have to pay for the wages of the servicemen that come out to fix the line.

“It’s not something to mess with, when it takes five minutes on the phone to save yourself ten thousand dollars,” said Nichols.

NIPSCO says calling 811 should be part of the to-do list when doing any kind of digging, from putting in a fence to planting flowers.

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