What do I need to do if I’m going to excavate?
- At least 2 business days and not more than 10 business days prior to excavation, contact the Oregon Utility Notification Center:
- Call 811
- Call 1-800-332-2344
- Mark the area of proposed excavation in white, per OAR 952-001-0040.
- Wait until the legal start time on your ticket and verify that all operators identified on the ticket have responded. If not, contact the operator(s) of the facilities that are not marked,
- Begin your excavation complying with OAR 952-001-0090
As a homeowner, when do I have to call for locates ?
The definition of excavation is very clear: any operation in which earth, rock or other material is moved or displaced by any means; such as planting a tree, putting in fence posts, installing mailboxes, planting shrubs, building a deck, etc.
To be exempt from calling for locates a homeowner must meet the following four specific requirements:
- 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 12 inches deep
- 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. OAR 952-001-0050
What happens when I call the 811 or the toll - free number 800-332-2344 ?
As soon as you make that important phone call, the operator answering the phone at the OUNC’s One Call Center, will ask you a series of questions designed to pin point the proposed 37 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 accura tely mark their buried facilities with the required color and the operator’s initials or logo .
Is an operator’s initials, or logo, really necessary? The color code indicates the type of facility.
Yes, the initials, or logo, are 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 b e set for a potential disaster. OAR 952-001-0070(1)(a)
Do I Need To Pre-Mark or White line My Excavation Sites?
Pre-marking is done so the locators will know the exact area to be located. OUNC requires marking in white as per OAR 952-001-0040. However, this does not alleviate the responsibility of excavators requesting notifications to provide appropriate information, exact measurements and a specific description of the proposed excavation area. The purpose of White Lining is to provide a physical outline of the dig site, illustrating the exact location of the proposed excavation site. Whether the job is large or small, white lining eliminates assumptions and digging delays, which saves time and money for all parties involved. Remember to pre-mark responsibly;
- By accurately marking the areas to be located
- Minimize damage caused by excess paint
- Call in accurate information to limit size of area to be painted to only what is needed.
- No white paint should be sprayed on pavement in a way that may interfere with traffic or pedestrian movement.
When can I start digging after I make the call? May 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 liability for damages. OAR 952-001-0050(1) and OAR 952-001-0060
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 for no charge. This includes Gas, Electric, Water, Telephone and CATV. OAR 952-001-0070(1)(a)
If I call for a locate after 5 p.m., will my locate be done in 2 business days/48 business hours?
The One Call Center business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Any locate requests placed after 5:00 p.m., will be treated as if they were submitted at 8:00 a.m. the following business morning. The 2 business-day (48 business hours) waiting period begins at that time.
When is it legitimate to call for an “Emergency Locate” request?
The specific requirements for requesting an emergency locate are: an occurrence involving an immediate danger, demanding prompt action to prevent loss of life, or to mitigate damage to property, or to prevent interruption of essential public services (as determined by an emergency response agency or the facility operator) or to prevent a customer service outage (as determined by the facility operator). OAR 952-001-0010 (6), OAR 952-001-0060
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.
What is a “Priority Locate/Crew On-site 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.
During the assessment or determination of a potential emergency or hazardous condition involving underground natural gas or hazardous material pipelines, is an emergency locate request required?
Because of the potential danger associated with these products, it is imperative to identify the severity of any potential hazard as quickly and efficiently as possible. So long as the work associated with the assessment can be performed by hand operated tools in a manner that reflects reasonable care to protect underground facilities, an emergency locate is not required. However, once the scope of this excavation is escalated beyond assessment, the excavator shall notify the Oregon Utility Notification Center immediately to request an emergency locate.
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.
The Oregon excavation laws make it clear that operators are responsible for marking the laterals within the public right of way and easements.
The definition of “Operator” is found under OAR 952-001-0010(15). The laws do not address “owners” of underground facilities, only operators. Please read the letter from the Oregon Department of Justice, found on page 27, which provides a complete discussion concerning sewer laterals. OAR 952-001-0070.
Do I need to locate underground drainage lines or culverts if they are readily visible?
Although there are many underground drainage lines, and manholes, catch basins, inlets, outlets, junction boxes, storm drains or permanent marking devices that are readily visible, many are not. You may omit marking if the facility is:
- Clearly visible from the surface for its entire length within the located area
- Marked by permanent marking systems and markers are clearly visible
- Marker shall be durable in nature (treated wood, metallic, UV resistant plastics, etc.)
- Mark culverts if not readily visible. Mark both ends of all non-visible underground facilities.
- Identify type of underground facility if not recognizable from the surface.
- It is also recommended that your operators Call Center number appear on the marker if the marker is of sufficient size.
This rule is not intended to apply to sewer lines. OAR 952-001-0070(10)
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.
Occasionally, locate marks 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 relocates, because of their failure to maintain the marks, are subject to civil penalties. OAR 952-001-0090(2)(a)
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 12, a new locate request prior to excavation is required. OAR 952-001-0080
Can I use the same color marking paint as the operator did to maintain my locate marks?
Excavators are to maintain locate marks during the excavation period to ensure that the original marks remain effective for the life of the project and can be re-established.
It is recommended that excavators not paint over the original locate markings with color coded paint, as this may alter who is responsible for locate markings in the event of a dig-in or damage to the underground facilities.
Good examples of maintaining marks are 1) offset stakes, 2) flags or feathers or 3) bracketing with white paint. OAR 952-001-0010 (11)
When directional boring, am I required by law to pot hole and visually check depth of the buried facilities?
Any time that excavation is taking place within the reasonable accuracy zone you must use hand tools or non-invasive methods to determine the exact location of the underground facility. OAR 952-0090(2)(c)
Does Sidewalk and Road Maintenance require locates?
Yes. The definition of excavation is very clear; any operation in which earth, rock, or other material is moved or displaced by any means. This definition includes graders, backhoes, bulldozers, trenchers, augers, drilling machines, blasting, and all other powered equipment.
There is one exception to this rule. Sidewalk, road or ditch maintenance less than 12 inches in depth that does not lower the original grade or original flow line of the ditch. However because facilities can be shallower than when originally installed, it is highly recommended that a locate is requested for ditch maintenance.
Responding to an emergency, requires a call for an emergency locate This includes all private contractors, Cities, Counties, ODOT, BLM, and the Forest Service who do year round road maintenance. OAR 952-001-0010(7)
Does the installation of for-sale signs used by real estate companies require one call locate requests? How would you pre-mark the area so it isn’t over marked?
Yes. The law is very clear, installing posts of any kind requires a locate request to be called in at least 2 business days before it is to be installed. OAR 952-001-0010(7), OAR 952-001-0050
- It is suggested that a flag or stake be placed at the desired location in advance of the locate request being called in and
- The caller should request only a 5 foot radius of the stake or flag be marked.
This will help eliminate excess marking on the property that is for sale.
Are the processes used in Survey Activities considered to be excavation?
Not all of the work processes used by surveyors are considered to meet the definition of excavating. Activities such as the placement and setting of tri-pods, setting of PK nails, setting of lath, flags and hubs, ; that moves or displaces earth, rock, or other materials up to a depth, as measured from the ground surface, that is no greater than 12 inches are not considered excavation.
The work of exposing survey monuments may be conducted so long as the work is done in a non-invasive manner.
Why is the phrase “on or below the ground” used in the definition of excavation?
In Oregon the law was put into place due to the amount of timbering done. Cutting down and dragging trees with heavy equipment could possibly damage buried facilities.
The definition of excavation is not intended to include activities such as spinning vehicle tires in the mud or dirt, moving a pile of mulch, bark dust or dirt or other materials set on top of the ground, setting up of a tripod, a child digging in the sand, raking, hoeing, planting or pulling weeds in your yard or garden, or taking a divot out on the golf course.
Is tilling soil for agricultural purposes considered “excavation”?
The definition of “excavation” does not include the tilling of 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 and does not exceed 18 inches in depth. OAR 952-001-0010(8)
What is the intent of the One Call Rules?
The intent of the One Call Rules is very precise. The rules are meant to regulate the notification and marking of underground facilities to prevent damage to underground facilities.
The rules were not developed to stop all activities that disturb or move earth rock and or materials, such as; spinning vehicle tires in the mud or dirt, moving a pile of mulch, bark dust or dirt dropped in your driveway, a child digging in the sand at the beach, raking, hoeing, planting or pulling weeds in your garden or taking a divot out on the golf course.
What is the Oregon Utility Notification Center?
The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) is the state agency that administers the statewide “One Call” system. The Board of Directors is comprised of Governor-appointed volunteers that administer the One Call Center and carry out a variety of public relations, outreach, and educational efforts. The OUNC is often, mistakenly, called the “One Call Center”. The OUNC has contracted with a private company to run the “One Call Center” under Board direction. ORS. 757.547, OAR 952-001-0010(14)
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. Operators may use their own employees to perform locates, or they may hire a private company to perform the locate marks.
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). Fines collected are forwarded to the OUNC for use in Publicity and Education. ORS 757.993 or see Complaint Process
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