Recent Op-Eds

Spring has arrived and many of us will begin taking on outdoor home improvement projects. Whether you are fixing an old fence, putting in underground sprinklers, or simply expanding your garden, digging beneath the ground can pose serious risks to safety and property if not done properly.

Each year, Americans unintentionally hit pipelines and electric, gas, sewer, water, and cable television lines while digging. Even shallow digging projects can result in cutting lines as many utility lines are buried only a few inches underground.

Service interruptions and environmental damage can ensue after digging projects that are not safely conducted. In addition to damaging our nation's underground infrastructure, such accidents can cause injury and even death.

In order to prevent these types of accidents, I plan to join in the introduction of a resolution for the third year in a row to recognize the month of April as National Safe Digging Month. This official designation is designed to increase awareness about safe digging practices, including utilizing the national, "Call Before You Dig" hotline established in 2005 by the Federal Communications Commission. This number, designated as "811" allows homeowners and excavators to call before they conduct digging projects to identify infrastructure below the surface.

The "811" number has helped dramatically reduce the damage caused by failure to call before digging over the past several years. This simple task takes only minutes and could save money, property, and even lives.

I encourage all South Dakotans to call the "811" hotline before undertaking any projects this spring and summer.