Spring Signals Start To Excavation Projects; Gov. Whitmer Declares April Safe Digging Month In Michigan

JACKSON, Mich., April 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Michiganders are more than ready to undertake outdoor digging projects like landscaping and other home improvements.
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JACKSON, Mich., April 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Michiganders are more than ready to undertake outdoor digging projects like landscaping and other home improvements. Dig Safely Month is designed to remind residents and excavators that safe digging measures must be taken with every project, large or small.

"Safety is and always will be our top priority, especially when it comes to underground digging," said Javid Khan, executive director of operations compliance for Consumers Energy. "It doesn't matter if the equipment used is a shovel, rototiller, auger or large earth-moving equipment, contacting MISS DIG 811 should always be the first step with any construction project. It's a free service that will mark underground utilities so you can then follow safe digging practices."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared April as Safe Digging Month in Michigan, joining with MISS DIG 811, Consumers Energy and other utilities, the Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Legislature to urge Michigan residents, farmers and excavators to contact MISS DIG 811 before starting any digging project.

The law requires contacting MISS DIG by calling 8-1-1 or visiting www.missdig.org/at least three working days in advance of using power digging equipment as well as shovels, picks or other hand tools.

Practicing safe digging not only prevents damage and service interruptions for underground utilities like natural gas, electric, cable, fiber optic and water, but also helps keep those doing the work safe. No matter how small the digging job, from planting shrubs and other landscaping, to installing fencing, to large road and building projects, contacting MISS DIG 811 is required to safely complete a digging project.

In 2020, the total number of dig-in damages to the Consumers Energy natural gas system was 2,127, a 3 percent increase over 2019. Thirty-five percent of damages were attributed to not contacting MISS DIG 811 before digging, while 25 percent resulted from not using hand tools to dig around lines when required. 

Six counties had 100 or more dig-ins last year:

  • Oakland - 729 damages in 2020 vs. 706 in 2019
  • Macomb - 248 damages in 2020 vs. 230 in 2019
  • Genesee - 195 damages in 2020 vs. 176 in 2019
  • Kalamazoo - 126 damages in 2020 vs. 136 in 2019
  • Ingham - 100 damages in 2020 vs. 113 in 2019
  • Livingston - 111 damages in 2020 vs. 77 in 2019

Four key safe digging tips were shared by Khan. They include:

  1. Contact  MISS DIG 811 at least three business days before digging to have underground utilities marked.
  2. Wait to dig until you are sure all lines are marked with flags and/or paint or cleared by the utility. Confirm this by calling MISS DIG at 8-1-1 or visiting www.response.missdig811.org/ 
  3. Respect the marks and dig with care. If the project is within four feet of the marks, dig carefully with hand tools or modify your plans to be further from the marks. If using power equipment within four feet of the marks, always use a wooden handled tool to carefully expose the lines and confirm their exact location before starting to excavate.
  4. Be sure to contactMISS DIG 811 prior to digging if using a contractor or be sure that person makes the contact.

"I urge all Michiganders to keep themselves, their neighbors and underground utilities safe by taking the important first step of contacting MISS DIG 811 before they dig," Khan said. 

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (CMS) - Get Report, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For more information about Consumers Energy,  go to  www.ConsumersEnergy.com.

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SOURCE Consumers Energy