Every year, MISS DIG collects reports from Michigan’s utility companies to keep track of digging damages that occur across the state. The information helps MISS DIG and energy providers, like DTE Energy, keep track of problem areas and prevent future damage.

The results are in from the first quarter of 2021, and these are the top five Michigan counties for digging damages:

  • Oakland
  • Kent
  • Macomb
  • Kalamazoo
  • Genesee

Whether you live in one of the top five counties or not, damages—defined as events that have compromised the facilities and require fixing—happen every day throughout the state.

And they don’t just happen with backhoes and other large digging machines. According to data from the Michigan Public Service Commission, in 2020, there were 1,110 damages caused by hand tools, like shovels and post-hole diggers. That includes nicks, scratches, cuts, scrapes, dents or gouges to underground lines while doing things like gardening or installing a deck or mailbox.

Digging without knowing the precise location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions, and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water, and sewer lines are damaged. For that reason, it’s important to call MISS DIG (8-1-1) to have underground utilities marked before digging. It’s not just the right thing to do—it’s the law.

Please remember to dig safely using five simple steps:

  1. Contact MISS DIG at 811 or missdig811.org at least three business days before digging.
  2. Wait until the flags are placed. Utility companies have three business days to go out to your property and mark where their facilities are located. They use paint and/or flags to identify the approximate location of their lines.
  3. Check status online to confirm all utilities have been marked. After the three business days, go online to status.missdig811.org to verify that all facilities have been marked. Enter your ticket number and review the responses from the facilities.
  4. Begin your project. Congratulations! You are ready to begin your project if all facilities are marked, your start work date and time has arrived, and Positive Response statuses are all green.
  5. Dig with care. Most importantly, keep yourself, your family, and friends safe. Make sure you are digging in the Safe Zone (more than four feet out on either side of facility markings). If you are closer than four feet out from facility markings, you must first hand-expose the facility lines to determine their exact location to ensure you do not harm yourself or cut off service.

Also, notify DTE Energy at 800.947.5000 if your digging equipment or tools make contact with our underground equipment. Even minor damage can result in pipeline failure or a major incident in the future if not properly examined and fixed quickly.