If you liked doing business in 2017, it appears that you will love doing business in 2018. Kiplinger is among those with a rosy forecast; citing data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the business publisher says we can look forward to a rise in growth to 2.6 percent in 2018. In case you missed it, 2017 held steady at a 2.2 percent run.
Who’s spending what and where in 2018? Kiplinger says to look for a hike in business construction, as well as increased equipment and inventory buys.
Now, with all that information at hand, consider a quote generally attributed to Gen. George S. Patton. The colorful commander is said to have remarked,“I don’t like paying for the same real estate twice.” For Patton, of course, he was talking about not wanting to spend on troops and resources to recapture an area he already overtook. How does that apply to your business?
Let’s say your business plan for 2018 involves physical growth. You’re going to bury fiber-optic lines, other telecom lines, pipelines to carry product, electrical cables and the like. You already know the costs involved: the cost of materials, right of way, actual excavation, testing — the list goes on. Perhaps you think that the word “list” should be spelled with a dollar sign, like this: “LI$T.”
Why would you want to pay for it all over again?
The answer is, you wouldn’t. Ever. “In the ground and done,” that’s your motto.
Unfortunately, one errant backhoe dig in the vicinity of your buried treasure can result in a line being cut, broken, punctured, scraped, torn or otherwise mutilated enough to require being taken out of service and repaired. That’s why the phone number 811 exists. Think of it as 911 for your buried lines; after all, it’s in the same FCC-mandated family of toll-free numbers that includes 211, 411, etc. Just as 911 is used nationwide for emergencies, 811 connects callers to the nearest 811 locate center, no matter which state.
The call to 811 is free, as is the subsequent underground utility locating service — and in Texas it’s also the law. With few exceptions, any digging below a depth of 16 inches in Texas using mechanical equipment requires a call to 811 first. The reason is the Texas One-Call law, which can be found in the Utilities Code Title 5, Chapter 251.
Texas811 is the nation’s largest free-standing 811 call center. It currently handles about 3 million incoming underground locate requests a year. You might think that’s plenty to protect the underground infrastructure, but it’s not.
According to data collected by the Common Ground Alliance, a stakeholder-run organization dedicated to protecting underground facility lines and the people who dig near them, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because there was no call made to 811 for a line locate before excavation — but that simple, free call to 811 reduces the likelihood of damage to 1 percent.
When 811 is called, the locate center takes the proposed dig information and informs utility and pipeline owners in the immediate area that they need to mark their buried line location with paint or flags. Forty-eight hours (excluding weekends and holidays, unless it is an emergency situation) are allowed for this process to take place, with the clock starting as soon as the call ends. For example, a call placed at 2 p.m. on Friday would require the line to be located by 2 p.m. on Tuesday. A locate request placed at 2 p.m. on Monday would require the line to be marked by 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
The theme of this issue of SHALE is “New year, new opportunities.” Business analysts agree that you’re going to have plenty of opportunities in 2018. Do yourself and your business a favor — make sure your employees, contractors and subcontractors know to call 811 to get underground facilities flagged before excavation. Because paying for the same real estate twice is just bad business practice, no matter what business you’re in.
Need more information? Visit www.texas811.org. Not in Texas? There’s an 811 call center in your state. The complete nationwide lineup is available at www.call811.com, and, as in Texas, it’s a free service and one your company should be aware of and use as needed.
About the author: Scott Finley is the Media and Public Relations Manager for Texas811. He can be reached at [email protected].