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Call 811 before digging to avoid gas and utility lines

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Amarillo, TX - After a mid-week blast of winter, we'll jump right back into spring - and that means some home improvement projects can get underway.  But before you dig in, it's important to know what's underground.

If you have some gardening or landscaping on your agenda this spring, bear in mind that there could be gas or electrical lines just underfoot.  But all it takes to stay safe is one simple phone call.

Atmos Energy and Xcel Energy are reminding the public that not only is calling 811 the prudent thing to do before digging, it's also the law.  If you don't call before you dig, you could be liable for any damages you cause - which could range from fires to power outages, not to mention repairs.

"There could be a potential for a fire," explains Roy Urrutia of Atmos Energy, "and so that's where people need to be very careful. Same thing with an electrical line - you're talking about high voltage that may be underneath there. Same thing with a water line - you're talking about gallons of water, millions of gallons of water, that are going to be wasted."

And while it's not likely that all of those lines are in your yard, Amarillo's infrastructure is designed in such a way that alleyways are main thoroughfares for utility lines.

"The lines that we're talking about are the lines that are in the alley," says Urrutia, "because that's where you have the sewer lines, that's where you have the water lines, that's where you have the telephone lines, and also our gas lines. So that's where it's critical."

The American Gas Association says sixty percent of gas line incidents happen during excavation - and in half of those cases, no one called before digging.

And according to Atmos Energy, Amarillo has seen 202 gas line incidents in the last year, with 32 in just the last month.

If you'd like to learn more, follow the links attached to this story.

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