Homeowner frustrated after busting water line

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- We've all seen the signs urging people to call 811 before you dig to avoid hitting underground utility lines.

However, getting an "all clear" from 811 may not mean you're clear to start digging on your private property.

Josh Neely learned that lesson the hard way while moving a fence on his Greensboro property.

"I just set the shovel down and it immediately exploded. I couldn’t believe how soaked I got right away. I turned the water off, but it was too late. I had to call a plumber right away," he said.

Neely used a single address ticket to contact 811. He gave them his information, then eventually got an email saying there were "no conflicts" regarding underground utility lines in his work zone.

However, North Carolina 811 officials say every person that submits a locate request is made aware that private water and sewer lines will not be marked. This information is provided to every caller that speaks with an agent. For people who use the Single Ticket Application, this information is provided in a disclaimer that must be acknowledged by the person submitting the request before it is submitted.

“Mr. Neely accepted and acknowledged the fact that these lines are not marked when he created the ticket. See attached screen shot of the disclaimer he acknowledged,” said Louis Panzer, executive director of North Carolina 811.

Panzer says North Carolina 811 handles an incredibly high volume of calls. They received more than 130,000 requests in North Carolina in the month of April alone.

“North Carolina 811 wishes to make clear that every person contacting us in advance of excavating is notified of the responsibilities regarding private lines. As a courtesy we do provide contacts for private line locators on our application and on our website. If you are unfamiliar with the responsibilities it is important to read the specifics about the process prior to submitting your request. We continue to encourage anyone that is digging to contact us three full business days in advance of that excavation,” said Panzer.

Additional information about 811 can be found at www.nc811.org.

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