- What happens when I call 811?
- When can I start digging after I make the call? Can I start my excavation before the two business day deadline?
- When I call for a locate, will the buried facilities be marked all the way to my residence or business?
- Is there a charge for locating and marking buried facilities?
- Can I use the same color marking paint as the operator did to maintain my locates?
- When directional boring, am I required by law to pot hole and visually check depth of the buried facilities?
- What is the difference between the One-Call Center and the locating company?
- How are fines to be imposed? If there is a fine assessed against me, what happens to the money collected?
- When is it legitimate to call for an "Emergency Locate" request?
- What is a "Priority Locate/Crew Onsite Locate" and what are my options as an operator?
- Who is responsible for maintaining facility locate marks, and how long must they be maintained?
- For Design/Pre-survey Locate requests, how long can the request be maintained as active, and does a new locate request need to be made prior to actual excavation?
- What is the largest civil penalty levied for violations of the Oregon excavation laws?
- Who is responsible for marking sewer laterals . the operator of the sewer main, or the home/business owner? Sewer laterals in the right of way are a constant problem because some cities/operators refuse to mark them because they say that they do not own the laterals. What can I do, as an excavator, to protect myself?
- What is considered to be a reasonable time for responding to Emergency Locate requests?
- Is an operator's initials, or logo, really necessary? The color code indicates the type of facility.
- We have to send in the Monthly Damage Report; what is this information used for and who uses it?
- I get conflicting information on when I need to call for locates. It is my understanding that I only have to call for locates if I dig more than 12 inches deep. Is that correct?
- Do I need to call for a locate even if I am digging in private property?
- You mean, even if I am planting a rose bush I have to call?
1. What happens when I call 811?
As soon as you make that important phone call, the operator answering the phone at the One-Call Center, will ask you a series of questions designed to pin point the proposed excavation area. You will be given a reference number and the names of the Operators that have buried facilities in the excavation area. The One-Call Center will then notify the affected facility Operators that have underground facilities within the proposed excavation site. The facility Operator (or their locating contractor) will locate and accurately mark their buried facilities with color-coded paint.
2. When can I start digging after I make the call? Can I start my excavation before the two business day deadline?
It is strongly recommended that you wait the full two-business day waiting period. This allows all Operators to complete their required responsibilities. If you start before that time you may be accepting the liability for an accident.
3. When I call for a locate, will the buried facilities be marked all the way to my residence or business?
Most operators will locate to their meter, meter base or to the connection point of your private service. This includes Gas, Electric, Water, Telephone and CATV.
4. Is there a charge for locating and marking buried facilities?
As long as the operator's facilities are located in a Public Right of Way or utility easement there will be no charge.
5. Can I use the same color marking paint as the operator did to maintain my locates?
No. White is the recommended color for maintaining all locate marks. By using the same color markings as the operator, it would become nearly impossible to determine which marks were the originals.
6. When directional boring, am I required by law to pot hole and visually check depth of the buried facilities?
Yes. Refer to OAR 952-001-0090 (2) (C)
7. What is the difference between the One Call Center and the locating company?
The One Call Center is an information gathering service that identifies operators with facilities in your excavation area. The One Call Center then notifies all operators of your proposed excavation and the operators are then responsible for locating and marking their facilities. The operators may use their own employees to perform locates, or they may hire a private company to perform the locates.
8. How are fines to be imposed? If there is a fine assessed against me, what happens to the money collected?
Fines are imposed through a complaint process administered by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC). All fines collected are forwarded to the OUNC Publicity and Education Fund.
9. When is it legitimate to call for an "Emergency Locate" request?
The specific requirements meeting the definition of an Emergency, as found under OAR 952-001-0010(5), is the only time an Emergency Locate may be requested. Any person requesting an Emergency locate that does not meet the definition of an emergency is subject to civil penalties.
10. What is a "Priority Locate/Crew Onsite Locate" and what are my options as an operator?
A priority locate is a common term used by excavators to indicate that they are requesting a response for locate marks in less than the required 2 business days. It is a common misconception that a priority locate is a legal type of request. It is not. There is no mention of priority locates within the Oregon excavation laws. Therefore, there is no legal basis or requirement for an operator to respond in a shorter time frame (other than an emergency).
Currently, the One Call Center will inform the excavator that operators are not required to perform the locate in less than 2 business days, but will inform the operators of the request.
As a practical matter, many operators do try to respond to priority locates to the extent that their resources will allow. Excavators are strongly encouraged to plan their work carefully to allow for the full 2 business day response time.
11. Who is responsible for maintaining facility locate marks, and how long must they be maintained?
The excavator is required to maintain locate marks for the life of the project. Excavators have the flexibility to determine the extent of a project that they wish to have marked at any one time. Once marked, the excavator must maintain the accuracy of the original marks.
Locate marks occasionally are destroyed before an excavator has had the chance to take offset markings, and operators have been consistently responsive to re-marking their facilities. However, excavators that make repeated calls for re-locates, because of their failure to maintain the marks, are subject to civil penalties.
12. For Design/Pre-survey Locate requests, how long can the request be maintained as active, and does a new locate request need to be made prior to actual excavation?
Maintenance of the locate marks and the length of time they are good for is the same as described in question 10, a new locate request prior to excavation is required. This is because new facilities may have been installed since the initial design locate was requested (many Design/Pre-survey Locates are called in months before actual construction begins).
13. What is the largest civil penalty levied for violations of the Oregon excavation laws?
As of June 2001, the largest fine has been $6,000, with $3,000 paid to the Oregon Utility Notification Center and $3,000 waived for a period of 3 years. If this person violates the excavation laws again within that 3-year period the $3,000 previously waived will become due and payable in addition to further penalties imposed.
14. Who is responsible for marking sewer laterals . the operator of the sewer main, or the home/business owner? Sewer laterals in the right of way are a constant problem because some cities/operators refuse to mark them because they say that they do not own the laterals. What can I do, as an excavator, to protect myself?
The Oregon excavation laws make it clear that operators are responsible for marking the laterals within the public right of way. The definition of "Operator" is found under OAR 952-001-0010(10). The laws do not even address "owners" of underground facilities, only operators. Please read the letter from the Oregon Department of Justice, found on page 33, which provides a complete discussion and opinion concerning sewer laterals.
The second part of this question concerns what an excavator can do to protect himself from damages caused by non-marking of facilities. The best answer is for the excavator to follow the letter of the law to ensure that that any damages caused are not through any negligence on his part. If a locate request has been called in and the 2 business day waiting period has expired, the excavator is legal to begin excavating. If damages occur to facilities that were not marked, the cost of repairs should not be the responsibility of the excavator. If the operator tries to force the issue, the excavator should fill out a Request for Administrative Action (RAA) and let the OPUC decide the issue through its enforcement process. In effect, the best protection is to diligently follow the law, and do not hesitate to file an RAA against those who fail to follow the laws.
15. What is considered to be a reasonable time for responding to Emergency Locate requests?
During an emergency, an operator is required to respond as quickly as possible. Because of the large variety of service areas, geographical constraints, weather, traffic and many other factors, it is impractical to specify a precise time interval for response to an Emergency Locate Request. An operator is required to make the best effort possible to get to the site without delay. If an excavator feels that an extraordinary amount of time elapsed before an operator responded, then an RAA should be filed with the OPUC for final resolution. Best efforts under specific circumstances would be the key issues in determining "reasonable" response time.
16. Is an operator's initials, or logo, really necessary? The color code indicates the type of facility.
Yes, the initials, or logo, is necessary. There may be more than just one telephone company, gas operator, etc. in the vicinity. Without the operator identification, the excavator would not know that all facilities had been marked. Conversely, if an operator marked "no gas", without a logo, an excavator would assume - no gas lines. But if there was another gas line operated by a different company, the stage would be set for a potential disaster. Operator identification with the correct color code are inseparable.
17. We have to send in the Monthly Damage Report; what is this information used for and who uses it?
The Monthly Damage Report is a valuable tool that provides information about the number of dig-ins and the causes for the damages. This information is then used to determine where public information funds can be targeted to improve excavator, and public safety. In the final analysis, if we can keep the excavator safe; we're all safe. In another aspect, the information received from the reports may show trends in damages that may require changes to the administrative rules, such as the recent adoption of rules covering abandoned facilities. The OUNC and the OUCC Boards are constantly looking to improve the entire one-call system, and the Monthly Damage Reports provide important information on the current status of the system and what we may need to do in the future.
18. I get conflicting information on when I need to call for locates. It is my understanding that I only have to call for locates if I dig more than 12 inches deep. Is that correct?
No. The definition of excavation is very clear: any operation in which earth, rock or other material is moved or displaced by any means. That definition includes backhoes, trenchers, augers, drilling machines, blasting, graders, bulldozers, etc. There are a few, very limited exemptions to this rule. Responding to an emergency, road or ditch maintenance less than 12 inches in depth that does not lower the original grade or original ditch flow line and tilling of the soil for agricultural purposes conducted on private property that is not within the boundaries of a recorded right-of-way or easement for underground facilities. If those exact conditions cannot be met, then a locate request must be made.
The confusion about the less than 12 inch depth for a locate request comes from the exemption for homeowners. However, even a homeowner must meet four specific requirements to get the exemption. The four requirements are:
All four of these conditions must be met or the homeowner or tenant must call for locates.
- The Excavator is a tenant or an owner of private property,
- The excavation is on private property of that owner or tenant,
- The excavation is less than 12inches deep and,
- The excavation is not within an established easement.
Other than the exemptions discussed above, any person performing excavation activities must call for locates, regardless of depth.
19. Do I need to call for a locate even if I am digging in private property?
Yes. Even tenants or owners of private property planning to dig, must call for locates as required by Oregon law. These laws can be found in ORS 757.542 - 562 and 757.993 and in Oregon Administrative Rules, Chapter 952.
20. You mean, even if I am planting a rose bush I have to call?
Yes. Buried facilities are located everywhere and they may run right through your yard even though you are not aware of it. Make the free call. Its good insurance and you will feel better knowing what may be buried on your property.