You might dig gardening, but check with PUD before you do

Underground electrical lines and equipment aren’t easily seen, the utility district warns.

EVERETT — Spring is a time to dig, to build, to plant, to grow.

The thing is, there are some perilous secrets in the earth that can create inconvenience and cause injury.

It’s why the Snohomish County Public Utility District is reminding its customers to check ahead to prevent accidentally hitting an underground utility line.

Such encounters happen more often than folks might think.

The PUD had about 100 incidents when people uncovered or hit underground electrical lines and equipment over the past year, said Neil Neroutsos, a spokesman for the agency.

About 40 percent of those cases resulted in a power outage.

And, in some cases, a bill.

“Not only does this pose a safety issue for customers, but if they fail to have the lines marked — or if they didn’t use the location information correctly to avoid hitting utilities — the customers are responsible for covering the PUD’s cost of repairs,” Neroutsos said.

Safety is the big concern.

During the past decade, there have been several cases in the county in which construction workers or other people have come into contact with live electrical lines. Some resulted in injury or death, Neroutsos said. Some lines were above ground; some underground.

In 2014, for instance, a construction worker was killed while in a ditch as part of an expansion project at Swedish/Edmonds hospital. The worker’s jackhammer came into contact with buried power lines. Two contractors were fined more than $50,000.

“It’s critical that our customers be aware of the dangers of coming into contact with the electrical system in order to keep their families safe,” Neroutsos said.

PUD customers should use the “Call before you dig” hotline at 811 at least two working days ahead of time before starting a digging project of more than 12 inches deep, including landscaping, remodeling and fencing.

Staff working on the 811 hotline provide locations of lines that serve power, gas, water, sewer and telephone utilities along the right of way of property. The PUD owns and maintains underground services on private property for single-family homes and will mark lines up to customers’ meters.

The hotline is a free service and available in all states. Staff has a lot to track.

There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States. That figure equates to more than one football field’s length of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the United States, according to the Common Ground Alliance, a utilities trade group.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A driver struck a woman in a motorized wheelchair Saturday in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood police)
Woman on wheelchair hit by car in Lynnwood, seriously hurt

The woman was on a sidewalk, passing by a drive-thru in Lynnwood, when a driver pulled out and hit her.

A barge worker hauls in an oil boom before heading off with the remains of the Mukilteo Ferry Dock ramp and pier on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. With the new dock in operation, all that is left is to tear down the old ticket building. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Old Mukilteo ferry dock afloat on the barge of ‘Lincoln Logs’

The haul included 213 wood pilings, 15 concrete pilings, 47 steel pilings and a “Speed Limit 15” sign.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code. Under the bill, starting Jan. 1, 2022, for taxes due in 2023, a 1% tax would be levied not on income, but on "extraordinary" assets ranging from cash, publicly traded options, futures contracts, and stocks and bonds. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Federal package could drive more than $10B to Washington

The state would get $7.6B for COVID response, schools and child care. Snohomish County is in line for $160M.

Samantha Lake
Missing girl, 12, found safely

Seattle FBI located Samantha Lake on Friday.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Jeanette Ho Shin Weddell, 96, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020. (Contributed photo)
Marysville grandmother, 96, was one in half a million lost

In a week when the president took time to mourn COVID deaths, local families were grieving, too.

An access road leads into plot of land located in north Darrington that could potentially be used to build a 30-acre Wood Innovation Center, which will house CLT manufacturing and modular building companies on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Darrington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$6 million grant is green light for Darrington timber center

The Darrington Wood Innovation Center is set to become a reality — bringing roughly 150 jobs with it.

Report shows vaccine inequities in Snohomish County

The county’s Hispanic population is getting doses at a third of the rate of white residents.

Most Read