By BEN BOOTH
---- — Iowa homeowners who need to dig on their property have free access to an updated technology tool, iTic Lite, available from Iowa One Call, the organization tasked with promoting the message "Call before you dig in Iowa."
For their own safety and that of their family and neighbors, homeowners must locate and avoid underground wires and pipes prior to digging because it’s the law in Iowa. They must fill out an online request using iTic by going to DigSafeWait48.com or dial 811 before doing digging of any kind.
The new iTic Lite is designed just for homeowners and is easier and faster for homeowners to use than the previous version. It lets them more quickly pinpoint the areas around their property to be marked.
To prevent injuries or property damage, there are four key things to remember before you dig:
1. Call or fill out an iTic — it’s free.
2. Digging without calling can cause injury to you or a neighbor and/or your properties.
3. Many essentials to daily living are underground. Don’t inconvenience anyone by knocking out power, communication, heat, water, etc.
4. You are responsible to pay for all damages and fees associated with an incident.
And it’s a completely free service that anyone in Iowa can use. In fact, the national One Call Program (dial 811 from anywhere in the nation) is mandated by the federal government in all 50 states and is overseen by the Common Ground Alliance.
It’s easy to forget that many of the essential services that support our daily living are delivered via an invisible infrastructure buried beneath our feet. Electricity, natural gas, communication lines and water and sewer services are all essential infrastructure that could be interrupted if someone decides to dig without first having an underground facility locating service mark their yard.
The system that allows homeowners or contractors to arrange free locating and marking services anywhere in the state is managed by Iowa One Call. Residents and professional excavators can call 811 toll free or visit www.DigSafeWait48.com to fill out a locate request called an iTic and arrange for the utility location service visit your property to locate the buried utility lines.
Consumer and contractor requests for locates must be made to Iowa One Call at least 48 hours prior to beginning any digging or excavating, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
Last year, Iowans struck, damaged, severed or punctured underground electric, gas, water and communication lines or pipelines 4,183 times. This damage could have been avoided had they reached out to request a locate that would have marked those underground infrastructure services before they dug.
In 2012, nearly 500,000 requests were made for location services in Iowa. Of those requests, only 11 percent were from homeowners, a number that the Iowa One Call campaign wants to see grow.
Fortunately, Iowa has one of the lowest reported dig in (digging-related damage) rates (1.6 percent) in the country, but Iowa One Call’s goal is to help get that number to zero.
Those who fail to notify Iowa One Call and get their property marked before digging could face serious consequences. Damaging underground facilities can impact the wellbeing of Iowans by disrupting essential services, causing large-scale service outages and even worse, by putting people in harm’s way.
This free service also can help homeowners and professional excavators avoid large fines and utility service charges for repairing damaged facilities. If there aren’t any flags, or colored paint markings in your yard, you shouldn’t be digging.
To be safe, Iowans should always call 811 and talk to a representative or go online at www.DigSafeWait48.com and fill out an online iTic to schedule the free locating and marking service.
For more information about how you can dig safely, visit www.iowaonecall.com.
Ben Booth is the public relations/communications manager for Iowa One Call.