NW Natural reminds you to call 811 Before you Dig

Media Contact: Melissa Moore, NW Natural melissa.moore@nwnatural.com, 503-818-9845 (pager)


April 3, 2015


NW Natural reminds you to call 811 Before you Dig

PORTLAND, Ore. — April is National Safe Digging month, a time when NW Natural, (NYSE:NWN), reminds all contractors and homeowners to call 811 to have underground utilities located before digging.

“It’s a message we try to share far and wide,” said Scott Gallegos, NW Natural damage prevention supervisor. “Yet, not everyone heeds this safety warning.”

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) recently released results of a national survey that found nearly half (45 percent) of American homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck do not plan to call to have underground utilities located first. This, despite the fact that 79 percent of those who plan to dig believe that something negative – such as a service interruption, injury or financial ramifications – could occur if they were to dig without knowing the location of gas, electric, communications, water or sewer lines.

“This survey shows that people understand the safety concerns of striking an underground utility line, yet are not planning to take action to avoid it,” added Gallegos. “We want to remind people that making the free call to 811 greatly reduces the likelihood of causing an incident, and we hope this will be top-of-mind as they begin their spring gardening and home improvement projects.”

Nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes according to data collected by CGA. Locally, NW Natural tracks the number of times someone accidentally strikes a gas line and reports the damage. Those numbers fell in 2014 by about 3 percent from 2013.

NW Natural encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • Call 811 at least two business days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property – it’s the law.
  • Confirm with 811 that all lines have been marked.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit nwnatural.com/Residential/Safety to learn what the marked colors of paint and flags represent.

If a gas line has been accidentally damaged, remember these simple tips: Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell an odor like rotten eggs from a natural gas line and/or hear a hissing sound, immediately leave the area on foot and call 911 then our 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-800-882-3377 once you’re away.

About NW Natural

NW Natural (NYSE:NWN) is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and provides natural gas service to about 700,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is the largest independent natural gas utility in the Pacific Northwest. Additional information is available at www.nwnatural.com.

About the study

SSRS conducted a national omnibus phone study between Feb. 25 and March 1, 2015, on behalf of Common Ground Alliance (CGA). A total of 646 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for their opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.86%. More information is available at commongroundalliance.com.

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