When a West Manchester Township resident began driving a mailbox post into his property Monday night, he found both natural gas and the ire of about two dozen neighbors who probably were not digging the cold showers.
The recent incident was an unfortunate but timely example for an event held at a work site Tuesday morning to remind people about the Pennsylvania One Call System, a nonprofit that operates a hotline that excavators and residents must call at least three business days prior to digging.
The law requires a call to the system only if power equipment will be used, but utilities encourage people to place a call for any type of digging, said Mark R. Kempic, acting president of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.
The system can be reached by dialing 8-1-1.
The West Manchester Township man was pounding a mailbox post into the ground when he hit a 2-inch main, Kempic said. Such snafus happen often enough to cost the company between $500,000 and $800,000 in repairs per year, he said.
They also put the community's safety at risk, cause inconvenience and are the most common type of service-related problem, he said.
Though pipes are buried a few feet underground, incidents have been reported even while people were using Rototillers on their gardens, said Bill Kiger, president and executive director of Pennsylvania One Call System.
By making the free call, all utilities with buried infrastructure at a dig site will mark the locations of their lines so they can be avoided, Kiger said.
It's free and can avoid big inconveniences, "so unless you're digging with a spoon, it's best to call before digging," he said.
Event: Kempic and York Water Company CEO Jeff Hines joined commissioners from the state's Public Utility Commission to hold the public awareness event at a collaborative project site on East Princess Street in York City.
Crews from York Water and Columbia Gas are repairing their pipes at the same time, in the area around the intersection of South Tremont Street, to save money and avoid inconveniencing motorists with two separate projects, Hines said.
With a backhoe in the background, PUC chairman Robert Powelson lauded the companies for being years-long pioneers in a cooperative pipe-replacement effort that has since been made law for all companies under Act 11 of 2012.
For more information about Pennsylvania One Call System, visit www.paonecall.org.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @YDYorkCounty.