CHICAGO — Planning to garden this weekend?
If you don't notify the city by Wednesday, you'll be too late.
At least according to city regulations, which require anyone planning to dig in the ground to contact the city's Digger hotline 48 hours in advance so the agency can alert utilities. The utilities are then supposed to come out to mark the location of gas, electric or even cable lines.
Kelly Bauer explains how ANY digging needs to be reported to the city's hotline:
While construction crews are well aware of the requirement, many casual gardeners aren't.
"I think it's probably a good idea," said Michelle Studl, 65, of the Gold Coast. But Studl said she has never used or heard of Digger during her gardening and she doesn't intend to because she "won't be doing any major digging."
But according to a Digger handbook, residents need to call "anytime you plan to dig. Whether it's a small job, or a large construction project, or a demolition project, or a homeowner project." Those projects can include putting up a home addition or working on the foundation, but also include "putting up a fence or clothes line, planting a garden or shrubbery."
The handbook makes no mention of how deep in the ground you need to dig before you need to call.
"I think people assume that for small things like planting a shrub or tree they don't have to call, and that's not the case," said Jennifer Block, a spokeswoman for People's Gas.
Block, who is also a spokeswoman for Integrys, a Chicago-based energy supplier, urged residents to call at all times.
"You should [call], especially because if you live in Chicago, an urban area, we have little space, so lots of different utilities — cable, telephone, electric, gas — all have to run their wires in confined space," she said. "You'll want to know where those things are before you put a spade in the ground."
Those who don't contact Digger can be held responsible if they hit a utility line, which can cause significant damage or even injury, Block said.
Block said Integrys, 200 E. Randolph St., tries to get out information about Digger to "keep not only our assets safe, but also the public safe" since gardeners hitting utility lines can put others at risk. She said the cost of having People's Gas employees mark utility lines and marketing Digger is worth keeping people and pipelines safe.
The Digger hotline can be reached at 312-744-7000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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