One Call Center is a free service to inform underground utilities or pipeline
owners of any called-in excavation activities that could potentially
affect their underground facilities. The facility owner, in turn,
provides specific location information to the excavator and marks the
underground facility with above-ground APWA (American Public Works
Association) color-coded markings.
One Call Centers serve as the clearinghouse for excavation activities that are planned close to pipelines and other underground utilities. One Call Centers help to protect underground telephone service, power lines, water and sewer pipes and energy pipelines.
The One Call Center programs work like this. A call center is set up so that anyone who will be digging or excavating using any kind of equipment from shovels to mechanized equipment (i.e. commercial contractors, road maintenance crews, telephone pole installers, fence builders, landscape companies or home owners) can make one telephone call to give notice of their plans to dig in a specific area 48 and sometimes up to 72 hours prior to any excavation activity.
The person doing the project must wait the specified time during which the marking of the facilities is accomplished before beginning the project. Everyone has to cooperate so that the project can be completed as planned and the underground facilities are marked and protected during the work.
Some people mistakenly believe that they don't need to contact a One Call Center because they think they can tell the precise location of a pipeline by drawing a straight line between right-of-way marker signs. People should still call a One Call Center center because :
Right-of-way markers along a pipeline route or at a grade crossing only show the approximate location of a pipeline because the right-of-way they are marking is much wider than the pipeline. Thus, the markers are not always located precisely over a line.
A pipeline may curve or make an angle underground as it runs between markers in order to avoid some natural or man-made feature such as a historical site or another underground facility such as a television cable.
Using the One Call Center system when digging around an energy pipeline, or any other underground facility, is the only way to determine the true location of that underground facility. Even after the area has been marked, any digging around the marks should be carefully conducted to avoid damaging the underground facility.
Calling 811 before you dig works. When a call is made, the chances of damage are only one percent, according to the Common Ground Alliance. Since the 811 number was established, the number of total damages due to “failure to call 811/One Call Center” has consistently dropped.