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Q&A Sessions

January 5th, 2021

What was the name of the speaker?

The live moderators were Ben Booth and Tyler Jass.
The moderator of the prerecorded presentation is Ben Booth.
The electric representatives featured in the “electric video” are Scott Long, with TIP Rural Electric Coop, who began the video; Rusty Brookes, with Par Electric, who was featured second in the electric Video; and David Garcia, with MidAmerican Energy Co, who was the third to appear in the electric video.

What do we as an excavator do when the 48 hours has expired and the utility hasn’t been marked but we get the all clear and marked confirmation email?

In short, an underground facility operator is responsible for providing/completing accurate locate markings within the required 48-hour timeline. A false “clear” or a false “marked” status would be an inaccurate locate and/or an inaccurate locate status, and the operator/locator would bear the responsibility for such…

Excavation may begin once the required 48-hour timeline has elapsed, but it is always best to air on the side of caution and safety; and an excavator, therefore, should notify Iowa One Call whenever the locating and marking is known to be incomplete or inaccurate. It would be helpful to the excavator if they could also contact the locator(s) to let them know. Adhering to the best safety practices, an excavator should consider refraining from excavating until all known unmarked facilities can be located and marked.

In reference to hitting un-marked lines… excavators must call the railroad when excavating next to or under the tracks. Railroads do not get one call tickets due to being private.

If the railroad’s underground facility lies entirely under the private property owned by the railroad, then they would be considered a private facility. If any portion of the underground facility lies outside the railroad’s private property – i.e., public right of way – it would be considered a public utility and subject to the requirements of chapter 480.

The best way to deal with private facilities is ahead of time prior to when a proposed excavation will occur, when an excavator can communicate directly with the landowner/property owner (in this case the railroad) in order to provide notice of the planned excavation and to request that the private facilities be located and marked. An excavator’s failure to effectively notify the owner of private facilities prior to excavation may impact excavator liability.

What’s the protocol for excavators that know there’s a utility present but the locators fail to either locate and mark a facility, or fail to mark the entire area of proposed excavation?

If it is known that an unmarked underground facility is present, and in conflict with the proposed excavation, the excavator should try to rectify the issue before excavating by contacting Iowa One Call and reporting a notice of, either an “incomplete/inaccurate locate marking” or a “non-response.” It may help to expedite any potential delays if the excavator can also contact the locator in order to make them aware of the situation. Under Iowa Code chapter 480 an excavation may commence once the required forty-eight hour timeline has elapsed. It is important to understand, however, that excavating near known unmarked underground facilities may, depending on the type of facility, place the excavator and/or public in potential harm’s way. State, and/or federal laws outside of Iowa Code chapter 480 could come into play. It’s always best to error on the side of caution/safety.

Excavators can, and should when warranted, file an official complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office or the Iowa Utilities Board, against any underground facility operator/locator that does not adhere to the requirements of the law by providing complete and accurate locating practices:

Iowa Attorney General “Locating complaints”:
Locating: Iowa One Call Online Complaint Form | Iowa Attorney General

Iowa Utilities Board online complaint form (reviewed by the IA AG’s Office):
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

Under advance/alternate search why can’t I use the GPS?

It may be necessary to update the devise used to record the GPS coordinates so that it can effectively synchronize with the Iowa One Call system. For assistance with this please contact the help Desk at 563-884-7762 . . . . . State that you require assistance with synching your GPS devise, and that you have been directed to the Help Desk via the Iowa One Call Administrative Office (this may require speaking with a call center manager).

Is contact information for the utility companies available anywhere in the portal?

No. The role of the Iowa One Call center is to process notices of proposed excavation, match the proposed area of excavation with the underground facilities mapping database, and to transmit the notices to all underground facility operators that own/maintain underground facilities within or near to the proposed area of excavation. The Iowa One Call system is not set up to provide any type of contact directory services, with the exception of the Design Information Request (DIR) for licensed design engineers, which provides design engineers direct contact information to the appropriate utility design engineering/infrastructure representatives within the various Iowa utilities.

Has IOC fixed the issue of allowing multiple polygons for multiple addresses that are nowhere near each other to register under one locate ticket number?

The current ‘mapping rules’ have been designed to include an excavation area – in urban areas – up to 1,500’ x 1,500’ per individual locate ticket. This means that a project requiring excavation – such as the installation of fiber optics – can be included on one ticket as long as the scope of work is within 1,500’ x 1,500’. The Iowa One Call Board, based on input from external stakeholders, will reevaluate the current mapping rules to determine whether revisions to the current mapping process are warranted. As it stands now, tickets will be processed using the 1,500’ x 1,500’ urban rules.

Is it possible to get copy of presentation?

The presentation will be posted to the Iowa One Call YouTube page for public access once the series of presentations have been completed in March. Arrangements can be made for any organization that wants to use the presentation prior to when it will be posted to YouTube, by contacting Ben Booth at benbooth@netins.net

Is it required for the company doing the excavation to get locates requested if they are doing the work or can a homeowner/ city, etc… put in locate requests?

The excavator, or excavation company, that will be performing the actual excavation is required to have a valid notice of excavation (“Iowa One Call ticket”). An excavator may not share a notice with another excavator unless the two excavators are legally affiliated (e.g., employees within the same company, organization, legal partnership, limited liability company, etc,

I think you mentioned other future presentations going on. Will we receive invitations?

There are twelve presentations that will be conducted between January 5 and March 23, 2021. There is no limit on how many presentations a person can register for. Registration can be done online here: 2021 Excavation Safety Awareness Program | Iowa One Call

Are there CEU’s for this program?

No, unfortunately, we do not have CEU credits provided for our Iowa One Call presentations. We have not been successful in achieving this. I am certainly receptive to any input/suggestions you may have on how to obtain CEU’s.

What is the 9% electric fatality (3rd biggest)?

This is taken from OSHA’s “Fatal Four.” Here’s a link to more information:
Warren’s Words of Wisdom: OSHA’s Fatal Four | Connecticut Training & Technical Assistance Center Blog (wordpress.com)

What electrical hit and injury at 3rd biggest what other avenues can we do to protect from ground path?

There was a serious excavation-related incident this past summer in Pella that claimed the lives of two contractors when they dug into an underground high voltage electric line. Education is very important… Workers need to understand the nature of electricity, and this is why we decided to focus heavily on electric safety this year. Private and secondary electric lines pose a significant problem, as well as mismarked electric utilities. Excavators must always survey the proposed excavation area before doing any digging, in order to document any indicators (“telltale signs”) that underground electric lines may be present (overhear risers and transition points, transformers, meters and demarcation points, warning signs, and other obvious indicators, such as “detached” structures/buildings that are equipped with lights and other electric capabilities…

If a ticket is left “not yet responded” after the 48 hours, is it okay for us as contractors to dig?

In short, yes, but there may be other circumstances to consider… Provided that an excavator is working from a valid locate notice (locate notices are valid for twenty-calendar days from the day the notice is received at the call center), and the excavator is not working off of a different excavator’s locate notice (an excavator must have has his/her own notice – employees of the same company may work from the company’s notice), and provided the required forty-eight hour timeline has expired (excluding Saturdays. Sundays, and legal holidays), then the excavator may commence with excavation operations at the proposed area of excavation even if an underground facility operator has failed to locate and mark their underground facilities within the required timeline – unless otherwise agreed to (mutually) between the excavator and the locator.

January 13th, 2021

How do you know it is a valid locator?

Iowa One Call only transmits numbered “locate notices” to the underground facility operators that have underground facilities near the proposed area of excavation. Excavators receive a corresponding “summary locate ticket” (with matching number) that includes a list of the underground facility operators that will receive the corresponding locate notice. In order to verify that a locator is a representative of one of the affected underground facility operators, an excavator may ask the ‘locator’ to provide a copy of the Iowa One Call locate notice. Additionally, the excavator may ask the locator for credentials, and/or follow up directly with the underground facility operator(s) listed on the summary dig ticket.

Why isn’t there a clear code for “work already done”? This is usually in the spring and fall when contractors don’t wait for locates.

Underground facility operators are required to locate and mark their underground facilities, or “clear” the proposed area of excavation. The “status system” is designed only for statusing the locating and marking process and not the status of an excavation.

In the event an excavation has already occurred, a locator should proceed with locating and marking the proposed area of excavation (or clear the ticket if the operator does not have any underground facilities in the vicinity of the proposed excavation area), and then status the ticket accordingly (“Marked,” “clear,” etc.). The locator can take photos of the excavation site and take notes about the situation (e.g., that the excavation was already completed when the locator arrived) – which can be used as documentation if warranted.

Who is responsible for a hit utility line that is not located?

If an operator fails to locate and mark their underground facilities within the required timeline as required by law – Iowa Code chapter 480 – an excavator should not be held liable for any damages that may occur to the underground facility that the operator failed to locate and mark – provided the excavator has a valid “dig ticket” (locate notice), and the excavation occurred within the original area of proposed excavation.

What is the difference between “relocate” and “refresh”?

A “relocate” and a “refresh” are the same thing (when locators are notified to return to a site and apply new paint to the original markings that may have faded or been destroyed).

Note: Excavators are responsible for preserve the original markings at all times during an excavation.

If the markings will be destroyed or otherwise altered during the excavation, the excavator shall establish suitable reference points which will enable the locator to locate the underground facilities at all times during the excavation. The locate markings shall be done in a manner that will last a minimum of five (5) working days on any nonpermanent surface, or a minimum of ten (10) working days on any permanent surface. If the excavation will continue for any period longer than such periods, the operator shall remark the location of their underground facilities upon the request of the excavator (by way of a “relocate” notice through the Iowa One call system). If the marking have been destroyed due to unforeseen events, even though the excavator exercised reasonable care to preserve the markings, the excavator may request re-locates.

I have problems placing one call address and area. Can you review this?

Thank you for the notice… This will be reviewed. In the event you have any difficulties using the online notification system, you may call the Help Desk for additional support at 563-844-7762.

What actions can I take when an excavator continues to submit re-locates for work that has already been completed?

The most effective action would be to communicate with the excavator directly. A locator may also require a “standby” meeting with the excavator at the excavation site as a precondition before completing the locating and marking or “re-locate” (“Standby Required / Not Marked”).

We have had quite a few problems with locates not being completed within the 48 hour time period. We then call in a Non-response. Is there anything more we can do, especially when we have employees and equipment on site and ready to start?

Direct communications with the operator/locator would be the most efficient method, but excavators can also contact Iowa One Call administrative support for assistance (Iowa One Call admin would then try communicating directly with the operator/locator management). Excavators that continue to experience locating delays may want to submit formal complaints to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office or to the Iowa Utilities Board:

Locating: Iowa One Call Online Complaint Form | Iowa Attorney General
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

An excavation may commence once the required 48-hour timeline has elapsed, unless otherwise agreed upon between the excavator and the operator/locator.

Are there any new requirements for industrial site owners on behalf of their utility contractors as competent persons?

There has not been any additional information or requirements added to Iowa Code chapter 480 (the “Iowa One Call law”). Here is a link to Iowa Code chapter 480: Iowa Code | Iowa One Call

This summer we had to relocate a certain job at least 5 times because of weather or illness. Is there a limit on number of relocates and does it irritate the locators?

There is no limit on the number of relocates that can be submitted, but an excavator is required to preserve the original markings at all times during an excavation, and establish suitable reference points based on the original markings should the markings be destroyed or otherwise altered. In the event the locate markings cannot be preserved due to unforeseen events, or when the markings fade in time, the excavator can submit a request for “re-locates.” Typically, locators don’t appreciate it when excavators fail to preserve the markings and repeatedly submit potentially unnecessary relocate notices. Overuse of the relocating process without any effort being made to preserve the original markings may be seen as abuse.

When I call in a locate for a certain part of the city one utility is never listed. I know they are there. What do I do in that case?

Whenever possible, notify the operator or locator of the situation. Operators strive to prevent damages to their facilities and will respond accordingly. Always notify Iowa One Call of the situation so that they can verify whether the utility’s facilities have been properly registered.

In the event an operator fails to register their facilities with Iowa One Call, or fails to locate and mark their facilities within the required forty-eight hour timeline, the excavation may commence provided the excavator has waited the required forty-eight hours, has a valid locate notice, and excavates only in the proposed excavation area as described in the original notice.

We are doing this presentation as a group and I am the only one logged in. Will the other 5 staff members be eligible for the prize drawings?

Yes. The group moderator can answer on behalf of the group’s attendees.

I attended the last class and I was under the assumption these were all different. Are they the same training just different days?

As will all of the Iowa One Call annual Excavation Safety Awareness Program meetings, the presentation is the same and will be presented in multiple locations – or in this case, on multiple dates – so that those who wish to attend a meeting have multiple options.

Under what circumstances would physical marking be impractical?

When the act of doing so would require an excavator to expend unreasonable resources such as time, revenue, manpower, or impact workload – e.g., a large dirt moving excavation in preparation of a new development, or an extensive construction project involving several blocks, etc. Regardless of whether physical pre-marking can be shown to be impractical, the excavator will have to provide clear and adequate descriptive information so that the operator/locator understands where the proposed excavation(s) will occur, and may require a preconstruction meeting, which the locator will coordinate with the excavator.

Will this presentation be recorded and available for use in upcoming safety meetings that do not coincide with any of the One Call meeting dates?

Yes. After the final Iowa One Call Zoom webinar has been completed March 23rd, the presentation will be publicly posted on the Iowa One Call YouTube page. Arrangements can be made for anyone who wishes to use the presentation prior to March 23rd by contacting Ben Booth at benbooth@netins.net

Changes to the way utilities (locators) use the “Agreed-To-Marking-Schedule” status code are in progress. Can you explain this please?

Operators, by law, must complete the locating and marking process within the required forty-eight hour timeline (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays), or by “clearing” the locate ticket when the operator does not have any underground facilities located within or near to the proposed area of excavation. Operators/locators may require an excavator to fulfill some preconditions prior to receiving their locate markings, of which the “Agreed-To-marking-Schedule” status is an option.

This should only be used when the excavator and the locator have mutually agreed to an alternative locating and marking schedule (i.e., when the locating and marking will be completed). Beginning February 15, 2021, any locator who selects this option via the electronic locate status system will have to complete five new fields:

  1. The name of the excavator with who the agreement was made.
  2. The date and time when the agreement was made between the excavator and the locator.
  3. The new date/time (alternative arrangement) when the locating and marking will be completed.
  4. The telephone number of the excavator with who the agreement was made.
  5. The locator’s credentials.

When requesting a new ticket (in advance of a soon-to-expire active ticket) should the start date be set as the expiration date for the active ticket?

No. This is not necessary because the system will automatically process the notice based on the required forty-eight hour timeline. It is important, however, that requests for new tickets be done at least forty-eight hours in advance of when the active ticket will expire so that the excavation can continue uninterrupted. Excavation cannot commence on an expired ticket.

January 21st, 2021

Who does the enforcement for contractors who don’t get proper locates?

The enforcement arm for the “Iowa One Call law” (Iowa Code chapter 480) is the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Underground facility operators/locators may submit complaints to the Iowa AG’s Office or via the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) regarding excavator compliancy issues. In doing so, operators/locators will be asked to provide information (“evidence”) that can be used during an investigatory process conducted by the IA AG’s Office or the IUB – e.g., photos of the excavation site and any other documentation that can be used by the investigators, such as documentation from the Iowa One Call center (locate tickets . . . . or ‘lack of’ having locate tickets).

The administrative office for Iowa One Call can also provide outreach/communications with excavators that fail to comply with the requirements of the law. This outreach can be conducted as a “courtesy reminder” about the importance of complying with the “Iowa One Call requirements” and the potential escalation/legal ramifications that may result when the requirements are not adhered to.

How do we get better enforcement for contractors not white flagging the proposed excavation? We have contractors saying they can’t white flag because they are based hours away from the excavation. They only put in a description that they are going from house to ped.

In the event an excavator fails to provide adequate descriptive information about the proposed area of excavation (including failure to “white-line”), underground facility operators/locators have the ability to “status” a locate notice as inadequate (“Not marked / Inadequate Information”). Operators/locators can also require a standby meeting with the excavator at the proposed area of excavation (“Standby Required / Not Marked”). These types of locate statuses are preconditions to completing the locating and marking process. Note that all notices transmitted from Iowa One Call (e.g., a “locate ticket”) must be completed. A precondition status does not close the ticket, but it may delay the locating and marking process until the excavator can provide the operator/locator with the necessary information (or meet with the operator/locator onsite).

In order to avoid potential locating delays, it is important that excavators provide clear, precise and adequate descriptive information about the area of proposed excavation. If an excavator can show that white-lining is impractical, the excavator must provide alternative measures to effectively convey clear, precise and adequate descriptive information. The best way for an excavator to do this is via the Iowa One Call online ticketing system (“ITIC/NextGen system”): Resources | Iowa One Call

Is there a fine in Iowa for marking companies when a no response is called?

Underground facility operators are responsible for completing the locating and marking requirements established in the Iowa Code chapter 480, and are subject to the penalty provisions established under section 480.6. Excavators may submit complaints regarding operators that fail to comply with the locating and marking requirements:

Locating: Iowa One Call Online Complaint Form | Iowa Attorney General
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

Were the drawings for prizes rigged?

No. Iowa One Call’s commitment to integrity and quality service is well founded. In selecting prize winners from the attendees list, Iowa One Call uses a software program featuring a random selection algorithm.

What avenue does a contractor have when dealing with a consistent lack of response from a locator? Often there is no communication from the locator and the only indication is a “not yet responded” on the ticket status after the 48hrs. We have been told that a non-response ticket has no ramifications on the situation. It only gives the locator additional time to get the site marked.

Underground facility operators are responsible for completing the locating and marking requirements established in the Iowa Code chapter 480, and are subject to the penalty provisions established under section 480.6. Excavators may submit complaints regarding operators that fail to comply with the locating and marking requirements:

Locating: Iowa One Call Online Complaint Form | Iowa Attorney General
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

It is always a good idea to submit “No Response” notices when locators fail to complete the locating and marking process within the required forty-eight-hour timeline. A No Response notice does not add to the time an excavator must refrain from excavating. In terms of safety and damage prevention, it is most prudent (and recommended) that an excavator refrain from excavating until all of the locating and marking has been completed, but excavation may commence once the required forty-eight hour timeline has expired (note that the forty-eight-hour timeline excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) – provided the excavator has a valid locate notice and the excavation occurs within the original area of proposed excavation.

I would like to see an option for locators when we can’t get ahold of contractors due to wrong phone number or just don’t get back to you. We need it done by a certain time, what would be the best option?

Iowa Code chapter 480.4(b)(3) requires all excavators, when submitting notices to Iowa One Call, to provide a valid telephone number accessible at all times during the planned excavation. An excavator’s failure to provide a valid telephone number or failure to remain accessible via said telephone number is a violation of the requirement. In the event a locator cannot establish contact with an excavator via the telephone number provided, the locator should try reaching the excavator via any other contact method listed on the notice (“dig ticket”) – e.g., an email address. A locator may also try reaching the excavator onsite at the proposed area of excavation. Locators may still use the electronic locate status function as well (including the status codes, “Not marked / Inadequate Information,” “Standby Required / Not marked,” etc.). Other contact options may be available through online search – e.g., the main office or ‘shop’ number of the excavation company, other via other avenues such as subcontractors working at the same site.

What happens when we schedule a marking time with a locator and they never show up to the agreed time?

The excavator can then submit a “No Response” notice through the Iowa One Call center and wait for the locator to complete the locating and marking. If, however, a locator fails to respond to an alternative marking schedule (e.g., an “Agreed-To-Marking-Schedule” agreement), then the original required forty-eight-hour timeline shall stand.

Is a property owner responsible to notify Iowa One Call for locates if they have hired an excavator?

No. The excavator must make the notice to Iowa One Call. The person or company that will be engaging in the excavation is required to have a valid locate notice.

I have to wait 48 hours to dig unless I have made contact with all utility companies on the one call ticket I just turned in – is that correct?

No. An excavator is not required to make contact with the underground facility operators/locators. Operators/locators must provide Iowa One Call with a locating and marking status for each locate notice they receive from the Iowa One Call center. Iowa One Call then sends the excavator a summary status report for each locate notice (“dig ticket”) via either email or FAX depending on what the excavator indicates. Excavators may also check the status via the “search for a ticket” function on the Iowa One Call website: www.iowaonecall.com It is recommended that excavators submit “No Response” notices when an operator/locator fails to complete the locating and marking within the required forty-eight-hour timeline and then wait for the locating and marking to be completed, but Iowa law provides that an excavation may commence once the required forty-eight-hour timeline has elapsed.

Is white-lining required? We get a lot of contractors who say it’s not required if the tickets are done online.

White-lining (or pre-marking the proposed area of excavation in white) is a requirement of the law. There are, however, three statutory exceptions:

  1. When the precise location, direction, size, and length of the proposed excavation can be clearly and adequately defined and described at the time of notice – or during a preconstruction meeting.
  2. When an electronic means of white-lining is supported by the notification center and used properly by the excavator . . . . . . . Iowa One Call’s online ticketing system is capable of providing a level of details and accuracy sufficient to electronic white-lining – but, the process must be used properly. Locators will know if the information is adequate or not.
  3. When the physical act of premarking can be shown to be impractical . . . . But alternative measures must then be coordinated between the locator and excavator.

If I hit an unmarked utility, who is responsible?

It depends on whether it’s a “private facility” or an “underground facility.” Underground facility operators are required to register their underground facilities with Iowa One Call, and to locate and mark their underground facilities within the required 48-hour timeline (unless otherwise agreed to between the operator and an excavator). So, if it’s an unmarked underground facility and the required forty-eight hour timeline has expired, and as long as there have not been any alternative mutual agreements made, then underground facility operator would be noncompliant with the law, and any liability should then be that of the operator – and not the excavator.

Private facilities are different because they are not required to be registered with Iowa One Call. Prior to performing any excavations, excavators should communicate with the property owners to explain that an excavation will take place and that the property owner is responsible for their private facilities.

What am I supposed to do when a locator states that I have made a marking schedule agreement with them, even though no one ever contacted me?

The “Agreed-To-Marking-Schedule” status is only valid when there has been a mutual agreement made between the excavator and the utility/locator. If no such agreement has been made, then the required 48-hour timeline stands. You should verify that no one within your crew or company has made an agreement with a locator. If no one has, then your excavation may commence after the 48-hours has expired.

January 27th, 2021

Are you staying with 48hr notice or moving to a longer time frame?

The required forty-eight-hour timeline is a legislated mandate under Iowa Code chapter 480. Any changes to the code would require legislative action, including a review of any proposed legislative bill by both the Iowa House and Senate. A proposed bill can only become law once passed by both the House and Senate, and then signed into law by the Governor. Additionally, interested parties can engage in lobbying efforts/actions during the review process in either opposition to, or support of any proposed bill. House and Senate representatives, while formulating their opinions/positions on a given bill, often work closely with lobbyists and rely on information provided by interested parties… i.e., Iowa One Call cannot merely decide whether or not any code requirements will/may/can change or become law.

Is there a procedure to follow for inadequate markings? Such as no direction of travel. Or nothing but a single flag.

The best method for now is to submit a “No Response” to the Iowa One Call center. At the time of this writing there is not a specific “ticket type” to cover incomplete/inadequate locate markings. Upon further review and analysis, the Iowa One Call Board of Directors may consider developing a new ticket type to deal with incidents involving inadequate/incomplete locate markings. In the mean time, use the “No Response” ticket type to convey the information… Be sure to include in the descriptive information field (or provide the Call Center Representative with) detailed information about any marking discrepancies or inadequacies, including failure to locate the entire area, vague or inadequate markings, mis-locates (missed underground facilities), etc.

How about windfarms? We have 6 windfarms in our area, with all contractors calling in a square mile at a time for “repairing field tile,” with no reference points in ticket or field. When asked, they cannot provide the areas they will be in. What should we do about this? As it’s always the same contractors doing it, after telling them it needs to be marked in white.

Wind farms may define their underground infrastructure as “private,” and therefore not register their private facilities with Iowa One Call. Any portion of buried facilities owned by a wind farm that encroach the public-right-of-way would need to be registered with Iowa One Call.

If an excavator fails to adequately define the proposed area of excavation, resulting in an operator’s/locator’s inability to clearly comprehend where the proposed excavation will occur, then the operator/locator may require the excavator to provide additional information (including the physical act of white-lining) prior to the completion of any locating and marking. In addition to requiring white-lining, operators/locators can – prior to completing the locating and marking – require an excavator to meet the locator onsite during a “standby meeting.” Excavators may not commence with any excavating operations without having valid locate markings . . . . . To do so would subject the excavator to potential civil penalties, as well as possible injunctions (any party can apply for injunctive relief against another party that, through reckless actions, or disregard for established laws, threatens the aggrieved party’s legal rights). In the long run, it behooves excavators to provide clear, detailed descriptive information, and to adhere to the requirements of the law, in order to avoid locating delays and/or potential legal escalation.

Operators/locators can file official complaints against excavators through the Iowa Attorney General’s Office or the Iowa Utilities Board. The most efficient approach, however, may be through direct communications between locators and excavators, when locators can inform excavators that locating delays (and excavating delays) can be avoided when the excavator can provide clear and adequate descriptive information (including white-lining).

What can we do about contractors not keeping up with paint on projects? A lot of our contractors call in huge tickets blocks long every 3-4 days because they can’t see paint due to them driving over them

Excavators may not understand the requirements of the law, so it may behoove locators to inform excavators that:

  • Excavators are responsible under Iowa law for preserving the locate markings at all times during the excavation.
  • If the locate markings will be destroyed or otherwise altered during the excavation, the excavator is required under Iowa law to establish suitable reference points which will enable the excavator to locate the underground facilities at all times during the excavation

Excavation operations may not continue if the locate markings have been destroyed and if there are no suitable reference points to work from. Excavators would, in these instances, be required to cease any excavation operations until the operators/locators can complete the locating and marking process or “relocating” process. This means excavation operations could be delayed up to 48-hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) while the excavators wait for the locators to respond. Additionally, operators/locators may require excavators to meet at the jobsite for a “standby meeting” prior to completing the locating and marking, or “relocating.”

Because the system errors on the side of caution (safety and damage prevention) operators do provide relocate services at the request of excavators (clear visible markings are always the safest method), but excavators must not abuse the system by knowingly failing to take the necessary precautions to preserve the markings, and by failing to establish reference points.

What recourse does a contractor have on a locating company that is a habitual offender of providing bad locates and is putting workers in danger?

Always document these types of incidents with pictures, written information, eye-witness accounts, and any other reference information that can be used as “review evidence.” The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has made it clear that all violators of the “Iowa One Call law” are subject to the penalty provisions under Iowa Code chapter 480.6, regardless of whether the violators are excavators or underground facility operators.

Excavators with grievances against operators/locators are encouraged to submit formal complaints to either the Iowa Attorney General’s Office or the Iowa Utilities Board:

Locating: Iowa One Call Online Complaint Form | Iowa Attorney General
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

Can you clarify what white lining means? If we draw a polygon, or draw a route or draw a circle on the Iowa One Call ticket, is that considered electronic white lining?

White-lining means pre-marking the proposed area of excavation with white paint, white flags, white stakes, or a combination thereof. This allows locators to see precisely where the proposed excavation will occur.

Electronic white-lining – or “virtual white-lining” can be accomplished when the electronic online ticketing system (the ITIC/NextGen system) has been used properly and effectively by the user during the process of creating/submitting a notice of planned excavation to the Iowa One Call center. The notice must be completed such that the “excavation entity” (the polygon, circle, route, etc.) in combination with detailed written descriptive information clearly and adequately describes the precise location, direction, size, and length of the proposed excavation.

Note: Using the electronic online ticketing system to create and submit notices of proposed excavation does not automatically qualify the notice as “electronically white-lined.” Again, the notice must adequately depict the precise location, direction, size, and length of the proposed excavation.

Are locators required to view the exact highlighted Iowa One Call Map for each ticket that is entered? Or can they only look at the written instructions?

Locators may use whatever information allows them to adequately and accurately identify where the proposed excavation will occur. It is recommended, however, that locators review both the map and written information in order to verify that the map and written information match (i.e., “no discrepancies”). If a locator notices any discrepancies between the map and written information, the locator may require the excavator to provide additional information in order to clarify any discrepancies. Iowa One Call does provide locators with both the map and written information (i.e., operators/locators have access to both).

Might be good to speak about the life of a ticket and the need to refresh.

All locate tickets (Notices of proposed excavation) are valid for twenty-calendar days from the date the notice is received at the Iowa One Call center. If an excavation will continue for periods longer than twenty days, the excavator will need to submit a new notice to the center. It is important to remember to submit the new notice at least forty-eight-hours prior to the expiration date of the current notice/ticket (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) in order to avoid potential delays.

Is there a daily limit to the number of individual locates that can be submitted by an excavator?

No. There are no limits. It is important, however, that excavators manage their “Iowa One Call notices” responsibly (“reasonable business practices”) as not to unnecessarily overburden the system – i.e., if it is know that an excavation will not occur within the twenty-calendar-day span of a notice, it would be prudent to postpone the notice(s) accordingly.

Is there a limit on how much area can be called on one ticket? How many addresses, blocks, miles, etc.

Yes. There is a limit to how much area is included per notice (“ticket”), but the system will automatically calculate the appropriate breakout of tickets.

  • Up to 1,500’ x 1,500’ in urban area.
  • Up to 1-mile x 1-mike in rural areas.

Does the homeowner need to request locates on behalf of a contractor/excavator doing the work, if it’s on the homeowner’s property?

No. The person or company (legal entity) that will be performing the excavation must have a valid notice prior to conducting, and during all excavation operations. This means that contractors who will be performing residential excavations should not have the homeowner make the notice for them. Additionally, sub-contractors should not use the general contractor’s notice… Employees/personnel employed within the same company/organization may use the same notice.

Are railroads exempt from the Iowa One Call law?

No. Iowa Code chapter 480 does not exempt railroads. It is important to note, however, that railroads own a significant portion of – and possibly even “most” of – the property where a railroad’s buried infrastructure is located. This portion of a railroad’s buried infrastructure could then be defined as private. Private facility owners are not required under Iowa Code chapter 480 to register their private facilities with Iowa One Call. Any portion of a railroad’s private facilities that encroach upon any public-right-of-way would then be defined as “underground facilities” and need to be registered with Iowa One Call.

What am I supposed to do when a locator states that I have made a marking schedule agreement with them, even though no one ever contacted me?

The “Agreed-To-Marking-Schedule” status is only valid when there has been a mutual agreement made between the excavator and the utility/locator. If no such agreement has been made, then the required 48-hour timeline stands. You should verify that no one within your crew or company has made an agreement with a locator. If no one has, then your excavation may commence after the 48-hours has expired.

February 2nd, 2021

When you do an emergency ticket it asks when crew will be onsite if you chose the ‘enroute ‘ option. Are you supposed to enter that time into the ‘ other info box’ or somewhere else?

The selection “enroute” can suffice as a standalone timeframe, but you may also include additional specifics in the “remarks” section … The more information, the better.

How does Iowa One Call police violators of the Iowa One Call laws?

The penalty provisions established via the “Iowa One Call law” (Iowa Code chapter 480) are defined in subsection 480.6, which authorizes the Iowa Attorney General, upon the receipt of a complaint, to institute any legal proceedings necessary to enforce the penalty provisions mandate in the chapter.
Violators of any requirements established in the code may be reported – via formal complaint – to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, or via the Iowa Utilities Board:

One Call Complaints & Enforcement | Iowa Attorney General
Online Complaint Form | Iowa Utilities Board

Does the gas company need to call in a locate to install a meter support bar?

Under Iowa Code chapter 480 (the “Iowa One Call law”) there are no statutory exceptions for installing a “meter support bar,” so if said activity requires any form of excavation (as defined in Iowa Code 480.1[4]) then a “one call notice” is required.

Is it required for a utility company to call in a locate to pound a meter post in the ground if it is by a house foundation? Are utility companies exempt in this scenario?

Under Iowa Code chapter 480.1(4) pounding a stake into the ground is an excavation. Utility companies are (not) exempt from any requirements of the code.

Can you explain an “Emergency locate?”

Under Iowa law – Iowa Code chapter 480.1(3) – an “Emergency” is defined as “a condition where there is clear and immediate danger to life or health, or essential services, or a potentially significant loss of property.”

When anyone submits an emergency request, they will prompted to verify whether the emergency in questions meets the legal definition (in parenthesis above) . . . . . If the submitter agrees that the emergency in question meets the definition of the law, Iowa One Call must then transmit the emergency notice to the affected underground facility operators.

If I’m a subcontractor on a job, do I have to get a locate request ticket or will the general contractor’s ticket protect me?

Yes. You would need your own “ticket” unless you are legally affiliated with the general contractor – such as an employee or subsidiary of the general contractor. Iowa law requires the person or company (or legal entity) that will be conducting the excavation to have a valid Iowa One Call notice (“ticket”). Similarly, contractors should not rely on homeowners to obtain the Iowa One Call notice for work the contractor will be doing on the homeowner’s property.

What is the expected response time on an emergency ticket?

As a general rule – based on industry standards – a two-hour maximum is considered reasonable. Iowa law, however, does not define a response time for emergency notices. Instead, Iowa Code chapter 480.4(6) states that under emergency conditions (even prior to making a notice) “excavation operations can begin immediately, provided reasonable precautions are taken to protect the underground facilities. The excavator shall notify the (Iowa One Call) notification center of the excavation as soon as practical.”

Explain the risk a contractor takes when refusing to expose utilities.

Failure to comply with an underground facility operator’s directive to expose the operator’s facilities – as defined in Iowa Code chapter 480.4(3)(a)(1) – is a violation of Iowa law, and therefore any excavator who fails to comply with this requirement would be subject to the penalty provisions established in Iowa Code chapter 480.6.

In addition to civil penalties and general liabilities, an excavator that does not use proper “potholing” techniques in order to expose underground facilities whenever an excavation will occur in close proximity to where underground facilities are located, potentially puts the excavator, along with other crew members and the general public, at risk of serious injury.

What can be affected by a cut fiber optic?

The underground fiber optic infrastructure continues to grow at an exponential rate because it is currently – and will be for the foreseeable future – the most effective and efficient communications technology available. All cellular communications networks and Internet services either rely on now, or will rely on, fiber optic technologies. In essence, “fiber” is the single most important source for conveying electronic/digital communications signals/data.

Damaging an underground fiber optic facility can result in a wide range of issues and consequences depending on the type of fiber damaged. The cost to repair damaged fiber facilities can range from several hundred dollars to several hundred-thousand dollars, or more. A ‘main fiber’ may provide services to a significant portion of a city or major geographic hub, including all aspects of digital communications and Internet services to businesses and to the general population. Loss of these services can significantly impact the business operations of hospitals, emergency responders, banking and financial enterprises, educational institutes, corporations and more. In addition to any repair costs, the “damager” – or party responsible for causing the damage – may be liable for costs associated with these types of losses.

If I have a ticket and I as the contractor refresh the markings through the week how long is my ticket good for?

A ticket is good for twenty-calendar days from the date the notice is received at the Iowa One Call center. If an excavation will continue for any period longer than such, the excavator must provide a new notice to receive a new ticket. The notice for a new ticket should be done prior to the expiration of the original ticket so that the excavator does not have to stop the exaction while waiting for the new locate markings … Because locators have up to forty-eight hours to complete the locating and marking, (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays), and excavation operations cannot be performed if a ticket has expired.

Can you explain what “Stand-by-Required” means?

Underground facility operators/locators have the authority to require a “standby” meeting with the excavator at the proposed excavation site prior to completing the locating and marking. Typically this is done so that the locator can gain a better perspective of what the excavation project will entail and precisely where the excavation will occur.

When a contractor hits a gas line is it ok to pinch it off and continue to dig?

No. That would not be permissible. Doing so could put the excavator, crew, surrounding community, and anyone in the general vicinity in harm’s way. Natural gas, when mixed with oxygen (the air) is highly combustible. When at the right ratio of gas and air this combustible mixture may be ignited by any ignition source. Even the act of pinching a line together with any tools may generate enough friction to ignite the mixture.

Whenever there is a gas leak, all equipment should be turned off (if at all possible) and the area evacuated immediately. Then 911 must be notified. After that, the operator of the gas line must be notified. It is important to keep people away from leaking gas, including persons living or working near the area where gas is leaking.

If I refresh my own marks is the ticket still valid if I hit something?

A “ticket” is valid for twenty-calendar days from the date the notice was received at the Iowa One Call center. Therefore, a more appropriate question may be; “whether or whether not there is a shifting of responsibility/liability once an excavator paints over an operator’s original markings.” Iowa Code chapter 480 does not say anything about what happens if/when an excavator paints over the original markings. It is, however, possible that an operator/locator may claim that once an excavator paints over the original markings, the excavator then becomes liable for said markings. In order to avoid any issues regarding the markings, excavators may want to refrain from painting over an operator’s original markings, and instead allow the operators/locators to “refresh” or “re-locate” the original markings.
Iowa Code chapter 480.4(3)(a)(2) provides that operators shall remark underground facilities at the request of an excavator made through the notification center, if the excavation will last beyond the required 5-10 period that markings must last on certain surfaces.

In addition to taking precautions to preserve the markings, an excavator must establish suitable reference points, based on the original markings, which will enable the excavator to locate the underground facilities at all times during the excavation. Excavators can establish the required “Suitable reference points” without painting over the original markings by using alternative methods.

Once you have received the responses to the locate from all utilities in the excavation area, is it legal to begin digging or do you need to wait the full 48hrs

Once all of the operators listed on the notice (“ticket”) have completed the ticket by either locating and marking the area of proposed excavation, or by “clearing” the area (“clear the ticket”) and the excavator has received notice from Iowa One call that the locating and marking is complete, then the excavation may commence even if the required forty-eight hour period has not elapsed.

Per Iowa Code chapter 480.4(1)(a): “…If all of the locating and marking of underground facilities is completed prior to the expiration of the forty-eight hour period, the excavator may proceed with excavation upon being notified by the (Iowa One Call) notification center that the locating and marking of all underground facilities is complete.”

February 10th, 2021

Can you put a 1 minute lag on the call out for emergency locates? I get the call before I am done listening to the companies that will be located.

This question will be submitted directly to the call center systems development team for review.

Can you record utility marks with a GPS rover and re-establish those paint marks after they get disturbed rather than measuring offsets to re-establish them?

When establishing reference points, the method used must be accurate enough to precisely identify where the original locate markings were applied. As long as the GPS coordinates are highly accurate (with very minimal variance) then GPS could be used to establish suitable reference points. Excavators may want to refrain from applying paint on the ground to refresh the original locate markings (originally applied by operators/locators) in order to avoid potential conflict regarding liability: Some operators/locators may argue that liability/responsibility for the markings changes once an excavator refreshes the original paint markings with paint. Although this is (not) addressed in Iowa Code chapter 480 – the “Iowa One Call law” – it may be a point raised by operators/locators. Prior to applying paint to refresh the markings, an excavator may want to get written confirmation from the operators/locators.

How far out in the future until we can use the one call app and use the device out in the field with the app to locate/ pin point location on the one call map?

At the time of this writing there is no confirmed timeline when something similar to this might be implemented. This is a topic that has been considered as a potential “candidate item” for future review and discussion.

I see that you are recording this meeting. I was wondering on where or how I can find and download a copy of this recording.

After the final Iowa One Call Zoom webinar has been completed March 23rd, the presentation will be publicly posted on the Iowa One Call YouTube page. Arrangements can be made for anyone who wishes to use the presentation prior to March 23rd by contacting Ben Booth at benbooth@netins.net or Tyler Jass at tylerjass@netins.net.

Can we get design tickets emailed to more than one person at our location?

Because operators incur a cost per transmission (notices/tickets transmitted from the Iowa One Call center) it would be more cost-effective for operators to forward notices internally – i.e., once the transmission is received by the designated contact/department within the operator’s organization, it can then be forwarded internally within the operator’s organization.

Do all utilities have a depth requirement? Many excavators believe this.

Iowa Code chapter 480 (the “Iowa One Call law”) does not define or mandate depth requirements. There are, however, depth requirements – along with other building, utility and related codes – established in other areas of state and federal law, such as:

  • The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for pipelines and electric facilities
  • The Iowa Electric Safety Code
  • The National Electric Safety Codes (NESC)
  • The “Utilities Division” under Iowa Code

Please discuss the importance of developers and contractors submitting design tickets for projects and developments ahead of the project.

The bottom line is “identifying and mitigating conflict” between underground facilities and proposed projects that will entail excavation before the projects occurs (during the design/planning phase) – which helps prevent excavation-related damages and costly redesigns.

The Design request System is a two-phase system that must be utilized accordingly and is intended for use by design professionals. The first phase is the Design Information Request, which provides designers with direct access to key contacts within the state’s underground facility operator organizations (for the exchange of critical information, plans, prints, maps, etc.). The second phase is the Design Locate Request, which provides designers the option to convert a Design Information Request to a Design Locate Request.

Do you need a ticket if your only hand digging?

Yes. There is no statutory exception for “hand digging.”

What are requirements needed to diem an emergency locate ticket?

“A condition where there is clear and immediate danger to life or health, or essential services, or a potentially significant loss of property.”

Under such conditions, an excavation may commence immediately without a ‘one call’ notice, provided reasonable precautions are taken to protect the underground facilities. However, the excavator shall notify the Iowa One Call notification center of the excavation as soon as practical.

Knowingly submitting a false emergency is against the law and subjects the violator to the penalty provisions established in Iowa Code chapter 480.6.

Be a good idea to cover that a pipeline operator must be onsite when excavating within 25 feet of a high pressure natural gas line. We still have contractors and landowners not making the standby calls or not waiting on the pipeline operators to arrive before starting work. This is for their safety, as well as the pipeline.

Effective July 1, 2014, unless otherwise agreed upon by the operator and the excavator in writing, no excavation shall be performed within 25 feet of an underground natural gas transmission pipeline as defined in 49 C.F.R pt. §192.3 (Code of Federal Regulation*) unless a representative of the operator of the underground natural gas transmission line is present at the planned excavation area. This requirement shall not apply, however, when a representative of the operator fails to be present at the proposed excavation area at the time work is scheduled to commence or as otherwise agreed by the operator and the excavator in writing. In this event, the excavator shall notify the operator that the representative failed to appear, and excavation operations can begin, provided the excavator uses due care to avoid damaging the underground facilities.

Could you mention the importance of doing a ticket for driving posts as well as excavation? Often these are overlooked as no excavation is occurring.

The legal definition of “excavation” is very broad and the legal exceptions to what excavation means are very precise and limited. Pounding or driving a post, stake, pole, or other material into the ground is an excavation and requires a prior notice to Iowa One Call. The only exceptions for driving something into the ground are as follows:

  1. When it applies to residential commercial or similar gardening (such as a stake to hold/secure a plant).
  2. Normal activities involved in land surveying pursuant to chapter 542B (such as a “lot pin”).
  3. The replacement of an existing traffic sign at its current location at no more than its current depth (note that this exception is specific to traffic signs, not posts, stakes, poles, etc.).
  4. In normal farming operation only: Replacing a post, while repairing a fence, in its existing location.

Is it 18 inches on either side of paint? Because I’ve heard it was 18inchs of either side of the exposed facility.

It’s not the paint markings, it’s the actual underground facility from which the 18-inches is measured horizontally:

The horizontal location of any underground facility is defined by Iowa law as including an area eighteen (18) inches on either side of the underground facility (underground facility operators do not locate for depth). This area is often referred to as the “tolerance zone.” Excavators should observe this tolerance zone and take precautionary measures to avoid encountering underground facilities when excavating near or within this area. When excavations take place within the tolerance zone, excavators should hand-dig test holes to determine the location of the underground facilities.

February 18th, 2021

What is the protocol for a locator wanting to report an excavator not submitting a one call ticket, or beginning excavation prior to 48 hours in a utility area?

A formal complaint can be filed with either or both the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and/or the Iowa Utilities Board. All complaints will be reviewed and considered for further action. Additionally, general concerns can be provided to the Iowa One Call Administration so that an administrative rep can provide outreach to any offending party – as a courtesy to inform the offender(s) of the legal requirements and potential ramifications of not complying with the law.

After 20 days, does the contractor need to start a new ticket or update the original?

If an excavation will continue for periods longer than twenty days, the excavator will be required to notify the Iowa One Call Notification Center and request a new locate ticket. An excavator working from an existing notice (ticket) may “update” the original ticket (by referencing the original ticket number) – the system will automatically generate a new ticket with a new ticket number.

It is recommended to call in advance of the 20 calendar day expiration if you know your project will exceed the 20 calendar day ticket. Excavating on an expired ticket is not compliant with Iowa law. Effective planning can help prevent further delays in the locating and marking process.

What am I supposed to do when a locator states that I have made a marking schedule agreement with them, even though no one ever contacted me?

The “Agreed-To-Marking-Schedule” status is only valid when there has been a mutual agreement made between the excavator and the utility/locator. If no such agreement has been made, then the required 48-hour timelines stands. You should verify that no one within your crew or company has made an agreement with a locator. If no one has, then your excavation may commence after the 48-hours has expired.

Does the homeowner need to request locates on behalf of a contractor/excavator if it’s on their property?

No. The person or company (legal entity) that will be performing the excavation must have a valid notice prior to conducting, and during all excavation operations. This means that contractors who will be performing residential excavations should not have the homeowner make the notice for them. Additionally, sub-contractors should not use the general contractor’s notice… Employees/personnel employed within the same company/organization may use the same notice.

February 23rd, 2021

Is there an app to put on your phone to get GPS coordinates to put in your locate?

Not at this time. GPS technology can be extraordinarily precise, but there remains a variance (margin of error) between some of the different types of GPS receivers/hardware sold on the market, and Iowa One Call has no control over the hardware used in the field. This is, however, a topic of interest that the Iowa One Call Board is aware of and will continue to monitor.

If I’m a subcontractor on a job, do I have to get a locate request ticket or will using the general contractor’s ticket suffice?

Unless the general contractor and the subcontractor are legally affiliated (e.g., legal subsidiary, LLC., etc.) then the subcontractor would be required to have a valid notice (ticket) prior to performing any excavation operations.

Is white-lining required? We get a lot of contractors who say it’s not required if the tickets are done online.

White-lining (or pre-marking the proposed area of excavation in white) is a requirement of the law. There are, however, three statutory exceptions:

  1. When the precise location, direction, size, and length of the proposed excavation can be clearly and adequately defined and described at the time of notice – or during a preconstruction meeting.
  2. When an electronic means of white-lining is supported by the notification center and used properly by the excavator … Iowa One Call’s online ticketing system is capable of providing a level of details and accuracy sufficient to electronic white-lining – but, the process must be used properly. Locators will know if the information is adequate or not.
  3. When the physical act of premarking can be shown to be impractical … But alternative measures must then be coordinated between the locator and excavator.

If I hit an unmarked utility, who is responsible?

It depends on whether it’s a “private facility” or an “underground facility.” Underground facility operators are required to register their underground facilities with Iowa One Call, and to locate and mark their underground facilities within the required 48-hour timeline (unless otherwise agreed to between the operator and an excavator). So, if it’s an unmarked underground facility and the required forty-eight hour timeline has expired, and as long as there have not been any alternative mutual agreements made, then underground facility operator would be noncompliant with the law, and any liability should then be that of the operator – and not the excavator.

Private facilities are different because they are not required to be registered with Iowa One Call. Prior to performing any excavations, excavators should communicate with the property owners to explain that an excavation will take place and that the property owner is responsible for their private facilities.