All Iowans are required by law to notify the Iowa One Call System at least 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) prior to engaging in any type of digging or excavating. Homeowners and private residents are not exempt from making this important notice.
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The excavator protects and preserves the markings – paint, flags, staking, or other designation of underground facilities – until no longer required for proper and safe excavation. The excavator stops excavating and notifies the Iowa One Call notification center for re-marks if any locate markings have been removed or are no longer visible.
Upon arriving at the proposed area of excavation, the excavator should verify that the locate markings are consistent with the locating and marking status report as documented in the “Ticket Check” electronic positive response system.
If, during the course of excavating, the locate markings are likely to be destroyed or otherwise altered, the excavator must establish suitable reference points which will enable the excavator to locate the underground facility at all times until the excavation is completed.
Anytime you plan to excavate, including digging. Whether it's a small or a large construction project or homeowner project, call Iowa One Call at least 48 hours prior to excavating (excluding weekends and/or holidays). Iowa One Call will notify the owners/operators of underground facilities who participate in Iowa One Call. The various underground facility operators will dispatch "locate" personnel to the area to mark the underground facility locations with flags and paint markings, showing where underground facilities are located so the excavator can avoid damaging the facilities.
Iowa law applies to professional contractors as well as homeowners, and encompasses a wide array of outdoor projects including:
Information required for requesting locate facilities:
When you call, please be prepared to give an Iowa One Call operator the following information:
Within a city:
Outside a city:
Each locate request processed is assigned an eight-digit serial number by the computer. This number contains all the information about your call. It is important to write this number down and keep it with your records. Iowa One Call retains this information for six years.
* If you need additional assistance, call your local County Recorder's office.
Location Accuracy is Important
A common mistake in utility locates is not properly identifying your excavation/digging location. Prior to making a request, be sure to determine whether your excavation site is located in a village/city or a township. Often, your mailing address may include the name of the nearest village/city, when you are actually located in a township.
The best way to identify the proposed excavation area for the locators who apply the markings is to white line the area prior to their arrival. Marking the proposed excavation area in white allows the locators to concentrate their efforts in a specific area, which allows for more accurate markings and safer locates. White lining is a process that enhances communication between the excavators and locators and should be practiced at all excavation sites. Another advantage of white lining is the reduction of paint and flags at the site, which can become an eyesore to property owners.
American Public Works Association Utility Location & Coordination Council Uniform Color Code:
|RED||Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables|
|YELLOW||Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials|
|ORANGE||Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit|
|BLUE||Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines|
|GREEN||Sewers and Drain Lines|
|PINK||Temporary Survey Markings|
All excavators, including homeowners, may be liable for any damages they cause to underground facilities. Simply calling Iowa One Call does not relieve an excavator of these liabilities. Excavators need to take precautions and dig safely to avoid damaging buried facilities. In the event an underground facility is damaged, the responsible excavator (including homeowners) may be liable for the repair costs, loss of product/services, property damage, etc. In the event the locate markings are clearly inaccurate the liability for damages may shift to the facility operator.
Underground facilities will be marked with paint and/or colored flags to approximate the location of the buried facilities. Iowa law allows for an 18-inch Tolerance Zone on each side of the buried facility. Excavators should try to avoid digging in this tolerance zone. If your plans demand that you must excavate in the tolerance zone, Iowa law requires that the buried facility within that tolerance zone be exposed. You expose the buried facility by hand digging with extreme caution. You must not use any type of power equipment to expose a buried facility within the tolerance zone (vacuum excavation is an example of an accepted means of exposing a buried facility in the tolerance zone other than hand digging). Keep in mind that the 18 inches is to be measured from both sides of the buried facility. While most buried facilities in a homeowner's yard are no greater than 2 inches in diameter, some facilities may be larger (18 inches on either side of a 4 inch facility requires a 40 inch tolerance zone – refer to chart). If you must excavate within the tolerance zone it is a good idea to call the operator of the buried facility (i.e.: gas & electric utility company, telephone company, etc.) to verify the size/diameter of the facility in question.
Under Iowa law the locate markings are good for as long as they are maintained and clearly visible. It is the responsibility of the excavator to maintain the original markings throughout the duration of the excavation even if it requires establishing reference points in the event the markings may be destroyed. Iowa law requires that the facility operators apply the markings in a manner that will last a minimum of five days on non-permanent surfaces and ten days on permanent surfaces. At the end of the five or ten-day period, depending on the surface type, excavators may call for relocates if they are not able to maintain the markings. However, to be compliant with the law, excavators must take the necessary precautions to maintain the original markings. Keep in mind that the original markings applied by the facility owners/operators (through their in-house or subcontracted locators) must not be altered. In the event a relocate is needed, the excavator should use the existing dig-ticket number as a reference for the call center operators. Iowa One Call does error on the side of caution. However, contractors and excavators must not take the system for granted. Misuse of the system will be reported to the Iowa One Call Board of Directors and possibly the Iowa Attorney General.
Be aware that only the buried facilities registered with Iowa One Call will be located and marked. All owners and operators of buried facilities, including public and private utilities, used in the storage, conveyance or provision of services, must register with Iowa One Call. Currently there are more than 1,500 registered members in Iowa. Private facilities not registered with Iowa One Call will not be marked for locates. Private facilities include LP gas lines, sprinkler systems, gas grill lines, invisible dog fences and any buried cables, wires or plumbing installed by the current or previous homeowners.
Homeowners may call private locating companies to have their private facilities marked. While all locates provided through the Iowa One Call notification system are free of charge, private locating companies will charge the homeowner for the locating process. Keep in mind that some buried facilities, such as plastic lines without tracer wires may not be located with conventional locating equipment and will not be marked.
Please note that some utility companies may only mark their facilities up to the termination point, point of attachment or service entrance – not all the way to the house or other structure. Iowa law requires facility owners and operators to mark only the portion of the buried facility that they own and maintain. While many facilities terminate at the house, such as gas, electric, telephone and cable TV, some facilities may terminate at a service entrance under the street, point of attachment on a utility pole or other location. An example may be the water utilities in your area. Lateral sanitary sewer lines (from the house to the street) are the property of the homeowner and not owned or maintained by the city, sewer or water utilities.
An emergency excavation is defined as a condition where there is clear and immediate danger to life, health, or essential services, or a potentially significant loss of property. When calling in an emergency excavation request, inform the Iowa One Call representative that an emergency situation exists and be prepared to explain. The request will be processed immediately.
Emergency excavations are normally performed under the following circumstances: