History tells us people have lived in what is now South Dakota for several thousand millenium.  Truth be told, most of that time was spent without having an 811 system in place.  What happened in those intervening years?

The Louis and Clark expedition passed through the area on their return trip in 1806.  70 years later, Custer was wiped out at Little Big Horn.  In 1927, work began on Mount Rushmore.  (It was finished in 1941)

And all of that was done without the presence of South Dakota 811.  Were they lucky they didn’t hit a buried line or what?

Today, according to the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association, there are about 6500 miles of pipeline crossing the state.

As of the latest reported numbers, South Dakota has an estimated population of 858,469.

That works out to about 132 miles of pipeline per person.

Factor in the buried telecommunications, water, sewer and electric pipes and cables, and the ratio of buried utilities to people goes even higher.

Keeping all of this underground infrastructure safe is the job of South Dakota One Call – also known as South Dakota 811.

For the sake of anyone who was at Little Big Horn or working on the Mount Rushmore National Monument and missed it, South Dakota 811 provides for communication between excavators and underground facility operators so buried utilities can be marked in advance of any digging. South Dakota 811 works to reduce damages to underground infrastructure, helps to ensure public and worker safety and protects the integrity of utility services.

It’s so simple, too.   Just call 811 or log onto the South Dakota 811 site at for more information.   It’s a free service, and getting those underground utilities located prior to a dig is also free.  Why wouldn’t you call?

Think about it.  Custer didn’t call 811, and look what happened to him!

Until next time, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

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