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811 Field Day highlights importance of safety before digging

Cheyenne River Telephone Authority sponsored the first 811 Location Utility Field Day at the Badger Park area north of Eagle Butte on Thursday, June 6.

The event was free and open to the public, local businesses, home owners, federal agencies, farmers, ranchers, tribal and city departments. Participants discussed the importance of locating buried cables, safety, and presenters demonstrated using the latest equipment to locate cable lines. The event was also a chance to network said CRSTTA Plant Manager Bill Jandreau, who facilitated the day’s events.

Over 30 people participated in the event including employees from Moreau-Grand Electric Cooperative, Cheyenne River Housing Authority, Tri-County Mni Waste, CRSTTA, as well as private contractors.

“We just felt to make an effort for the purpose of safety awareness,” said Jandreau.

With warmer days come construction and outdoor projects, big and small, and it is important that anytime digging is involved, people must call “811” said Jandreau. According to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, “South Dakota law requires excavators and homeowners to contact South Dakota One Call at least two working days before beginning any digging project.”

Digging without knowledge of where underground utilities lie can cause damage to electric, communications, water, sewer, and gas lines. Hitting “hot cables” can result in serious injuries and death. Jandreau said a death resulted when calls to 911 could not be placed after a person inadvertently cut a communications fiber optic cable, making phone lines inoperable.

So important is contacting 811 that the CRSTTA sponsors the “Call 811 Before You Dig” ad in local newspapers, including this one, every other week. In the ad, you will find information about how and when to contact 811.

What exactly is 811? According to the Common Ground Alliance, “811 is a national phone number designated by the Federal Communications Commission that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with their local one call center.”

When a resident of Cheyenne River calls 811, they are connected to a representative who contacts Cheyenne River Telephone Authority. Within 2-3 days, CRSTTA will send a technician to locate cables and mark the area so that digging can occur safely. Digging without calling 811 can result in fines and cost of repairs to damaged cables.

Seeing and using the latest cable locating equipment was an important aspect of Thursday’s training. In the past, cable locators were inaccurate and cause for long days at work. With the latest technology, cable locating equipment is software-based equipped with GPS and data storage databases, ensuring accuracy and efficiency, said Jandreau.

DitchSwitch from Rapid City was also present at the educational event, and they upgraded locating equipment for those who brought theirs to the event.

Jandreau ended the event reiterating the importance of safety and using 811.

“We don’t want a phone call that someone’s loved one is not coming home because they accidentally cut a line,” said Jandreau.

For more information about 811, visit