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Iowa One Call logo - 811 is the number to call to know what's below. Call before you dig.

Call For Your Protection

The call is free, easy and it only takes a few minutes to provide your name, phone number, proposed digging time and location. Inside city limits you will need to specify your street address, city and township; or in rural areas, provide directions, names of key roads and township. The phone number is: 800-292-8989.

Call Because It's the Law

Iowa citizens must, by law, call the Call Center with the pertinent information on the location in question 48 hours in advance. The utilities must then dispatch their own everyday lifesavers - personnel to mark the location of their facilities or indicate an "all clear" within 48 hours of the request. Violation of the law (Iowa Code: Chapter 480) may result in steep fines or lawsuits for accidental property or utility line damage; or, in the worst-case scenario, someone's injury or death.

Below are a list of commonly asked questions:

When should I call?

Any time you plan to excavate, including digging. Whether it's a small or a large construction project or homeowner project, call Iowa One Call 48 hours prior to excavating (excluding weekends and/or holidays). Iowa One Call will notify the owners/operators of underground facilities who participate in Iowa One Call. The various underground facility operators will dispatch "locate" personnel to the area to mark the underground facility locations with flags and paint markings, showing where underground facilities are located so the excavator can avoid damaging the facilities.

Iowa law applies to professional contractors as well as homeowners, and encompasses a wide array of outdoor projects including:

  • Installing a fence
  • Planting trees or shrubs
  • Building a patio, addition, deck, garage, outdoor shed or any similar structure that requires any form of digging
  • Putting in a new driveway
  • Installing a septic system or water drainage system
  • Terracing or landscaping

When should I NOT call?

Iowa One Call provides notification service for utility location requests only. Iowa One Call should not be contacted for any of the following reasons:

  • To report any type of service outage due to weather conditions
  • To resolve any type of utility billing problem
  • To report any excavation outside of Iowa
  • To request any type of facility removal or relocation (including meter removals prior to demolition of a building)
  • To request initiation of any type of utility service
  • To provide maps, plans or drawings of the proposed excavation

What is a job request number?

Each locate request that is processed is assigned a serial number by the computer. This number contains all the information about your call. It is important to write this number down and keep it with your records. Iowa One Call retains this information for six years

Is there a charge for locating?

No, the locate service is free as long as there is a 48-hour advance notice given prior to excavation (excluding weekends and holidays). Be aware that any underground facilities utilized only for the benefit of the property owner or occupant, or homeowner-added improvements, will not be marked

What is the tolerance zone digging around markings?

Facility operators mark the horizontal location of underground facilities but do not locate for depth. "Horizontal location of any underground facility" is defined as including an area 18 inches on either side of the underground facility.

Should I mark the digging site?

Operators of underground facilities mark the location of their underground facility to conform with the uniform color code established by the American Public Works Association's utility locations and coordination council. It is extremely helpful for any proposed excavation site to be outlined in white paint or white flags by the excavator to reduce any confusion as to where the proposed excavation will occur. Let the Iowa One Call representative know if you have outlined your site with white paint or flags.

How long is the marking good for?

Markings will be done in a manner that will last for a minimum of five working days on any non-permanent surface, or a minimum of ten working days on any permanent surface. If the excavation will continue for a longer period of time, the excavator may contact the Iowa One Call Center to have the lines re-marked.

Can I dig after the 48-hours advance notice?

Yes. However, you have an obligation to dig in a reasonable and prudent manner, taking all necessary and required measures to avoid damaging underground facilities. An operator of underground facilities (who determined they do not have any underground facilities located within the proposed area of excavation) will notify the excavator prior to the indicated date of the commencement of excavation.

What is a joint meeting and when should I ask for one?

A joint meeting is an additional service provided by Iowa One Call. It is requested by an excavator to arrange for a meeting with locating personnel from one or more underground facility operators participating in Iowa One Call. The excavator must give 48-hours notice (excluding weekends and holidays) and specify the time and place to meet. Requesting a joint meet would be good for an extensive project or an excavation that may be confusing on paper. The meeting will allow you to discuss any particulars with the locators, reducing any confusion as to exactly what is expected during the excavation.

What is an emergency excavation?

An emergency excavation is defined as a condition where there is clear and immediate danger to life, health, or essential services, or a potentially significant loss of property. When calling in an emergency excavation request, inform the Iowa One Call representative that an emergency situation exists and be prepared to explain. The request will be processed immediately.

Emergency excavations are normally performed under the following circumstances:

  1. An unforeseen excavation is necessary in order to prevent a condition that poses a clear and immediate danger to life or health.
  2. An excavation is required to repair a utility service outage.
  3. An immediate excavation is required in order to prevent significant property or environmental damage.
  4. The repair of an existing unstable condition which may result in any of the conditions listed above (for example, a leak in any service or main, or a fault in a primary or secondary wire or cable).

Can't find what you are looking for or have additional questions?

Contact our office and we would be happy to help!