Iowa Law requires contacting Iowa One Call before starting any digging project

(Des Moines) – Springtime brings increased construction and residential outdoor home improvement projects that often involve digging. April is National Safe Digging Month and the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) joins the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and Iowa One Call in reminding contractors and residents that Iowa law requires calling 811 or scheduling a utility location request prior to starting any digging work. A call to 811 is free ― and it’s the law.

Whether you are a resident wishing to install a fence, mailbox, or basketball hoop, or a professional excavator or contractor handling a project for a homeowner, a call to 811 or submitting information online to notifies operators with underground utility facilities of your intent to dig. Iowa law requires that any resident or excavator contact 811 or Iowa One Call a minimum of two business days before digging to prevent serious injuries, utility service disruptions, and possible costly repairs that could occur when buried gas, electric, communications, water, or sewer lines are damaged.

Once a locate request is submitted, utility companies will visit the project site to mark the underground utilities with color-coded flags and paint that indicate where utility lines are buried. The IUB recommends following these steps before starting any digging project:

  • Plan ahead and always call 811 at least 48 hours before digging anywhere.
  • Consider relocating any digging project that is near utility line markings.
  • Confirm that any contractor you have hired has called 811. Don’t allow digging if utility lines aren’t marked.

The IUB participates annually in PHMSA’s State Damage Prevention and One Call grant programs. Iowa’s damage prevention program is designed to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure. Iowa’s role in the One Call grant program is designed to promote damage prevention, including changes with Iowa’s underground damage prevention laws, related compliance activities, training and public education and the IUB’s agreement with PHMSA to perform safety inspections.

The Attorney General’s office enforces the One Call law and the IUB assists by investigating One Call complaints.

Iowa’s 811 call center is available to receive locate requests and assist with damage prevention needs. Learn more by visiting Iowa One Call. Safe digging information is also available on the websites for Common Ground Iowa, the national Common Ground AllianceCall 811, or on Iowa's One Call Law IUB webpage.