History and Background


Iowa One Call (IOC) was started in 1980 by Northwestern Bell (CenturyLink, until recently Qwest) and Iowa Illinois Gas & Electric (now MidAmerican Energy Co.) as a means to maintain the integrity of their utility systems. The service at that time was voluntary but since January 1, 1993, all owners and operators of underground facilities are required by state law to join IOC. Membership now exceeds 1,400.

IOC provides contractors/excavators, homeowners, and others who plan to disturb the earth, with a single toll-free number to call, and online ticket entry, for the locating and marking of these underground facilities.

IOC is not a utility. IOC owns no facilities and does not locate underground facilities. IOC receives requests for underground facility locates from excavators (persons and legal entities) planning projects that will entail excavating. IOC processes all requests for locates and then transmits the requests to the IOC member companies (all owners/operators of underground facilities are required to register with the Iowa One Call system) who own, operate or maintain underground facilities within the area of proposed excavation. Each underground facility operator is then responsible for locating and marking their own facilities. The service provided by Iowa One Call, and the locating and marking of underground facilities by underground facility operators, is free of charge to excavators. The IOC system is paid in full by IOC member companies.

The board of directors is elected by the membership of the organization and does not receive compensation for serving. An IOC annual report is filed with the Iowa Utility Board and is available for review. IOC meetings and records are subject to the State’s open meetings and records law. A certified audit is conducted yearly.

When do I use IOC?

Contact IOC anytime you plan to excavate. Whether it’s a small or a large construction or homeowner project (such as putting up a fence or clothes line, planting trees or shrubbery, landscaping, building a home addition, deck, foundation, or replacing a driveway or sidewalk, etc.) you must submit a locate request at least 48 hours (not counting weekends and/or legal holidays) prior to excavation. IOC will notify the owners/operators of underground facilities who are IOC members and who have facilities in the area of planned excavation, of this planned excavation activity.

Reasons Not to Contact IOC

The Iowa One Call service exists to provide notification service for utility location requests only. IOC should NOT be contacted for any of the following reasons:

  • To report any type of service outage due to weather conditions.
  • To report any excavation outside of the state of Iowa.
  • To resolve any type of utility billing problem.
  • To request any type of facility removal or relocation (including meter removals prior to demolition of a building).
  • To request initiation of any type of utility service.
  • To provide maps, plans or drawings of the proposed excavation.

Do all underground facility owners/members/operators participate in IOC?

No. While all underground facility owners/operators are required by state law to participate in the One Call system, there may be some non-compliant underground facility owners/operators who do not participate in IOC. Thus, all underground facilities may not be included in the location notification request. The IOC Customer Service Representative (CSR) will remind you of this fact after reading you the list of underground facility owners/operators to be notified. The CSR will advise you that if you know of any other utilities in the area you need to notify them yourself.

The Underground Facilities Information Act

The law requires persons planning excavations to contact the One Call system before excavating, and requires owner/operators of underground facilities to participate in the One Call system. This law, as amended, went into effect January 1, 1993. A copy of the law, as amended, is found here.

Underground facilities can be damaged or ruptured by an assortment of digging instruments; a small bend or dent can create problems months later. The ramifications of damaged equipment and interrupted service are serious. Loss of natural gas, telephone, water or electricity can leave communities without such vital services as police, fire and medical protection. When damaged, these vital services can endanger property and public safety- they can also be expensive and time consuming to repair.

There are generally three types of requests made from excavators to utility operators through IOC: regular locate requests, emergency locate requests, and notices of dig-ins (damage to facilities). In addition, IOC provides Joint Meet Locates, Design Information Requests and Design Locate Requests (click here for more information).