Council discusses need for utility drilling permit

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Damage to city utility lines was the basis for Picayune’s Code Enforcement Officer to develop a permitting process to ensure any company that causes damages to city utility lines will be held accountable.

Code Enforcement Officer Tom Milar said the need is even greater recently due to an increase in drilling operations, particularly by companies installing fiber optic lines to increase Internet speeds.

Milar said three companies have been conducting drilling within the city as of late, AT&T, CSpire and Coast Connect.

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Currently there is no direct line of communication with those companies should something go wrong with the drilling process, such as if a water or sewer line is severed or damaged.

Milar said previous attempts to speak with the contractors conducting the work on site typically shows the contractors are uninformed.

To ensure the city is protected, such as a recent instance where a water line was damaged near the Woods Subdivision, Milar suggested the implementation of a permitting process for those companies. That permit will not only establish a policy for the communications company to notify residents in the area that work will take place, but also set a clear line of communication between the contractors and the communications company conducting the work. Currently that process is voluntary, Milar said.

The permit will require the communications company to list all contractors and sub contractors as well as hold an insurance policy should any damage occur.

That way, should damage occur, the city will be protected from he expenses to conduct repairs.