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Be Aware of the Country’s One-Call System Laws, State by State

Our country’s one-call system is a vital resource and asset to both nationwide utility providers and those who plan on doing any kind of construction. It’s set up to prevent damage to underground cables and pipes, and is meant to be universal and easy.

Simply put, anyone planning on doing any digging calls 8-1-1 and tells the operator what they’ll be doing, and where. The local utility companies are then notified, and within a few days will send someone to mark the approximate location of underground lines, cables, and pipes, and guide the person digging to where it’s safe to do so. The number can be dialed from anywhere in the country, and the call is routed to the proper One Call Center.

There’s just one thing that makes it all tricky: as universal and simple as the system is, One Call regulations can vary widely from state to state, around the country. Therefore, it’s important to know the specific regulations and procedures where the digging is taking place; they are not all created equal, and they also change over time. In fact, many states are currently changing the regulations and making them stricter, so it’s especially important to be aware of them now.

In an effort to bring attention to the subject and inform people, Walt Kelly, a damage 500px-Telecom-icon.svgprevention consultant and member of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), has written a report entitled “One-Call Legislation Survey 2014.” It covers recent changes, pending laws, and proposed legislation. These include law changes in 11 states, proposed or pending changes in 15 states, three states in which changes are on hold, and 32 states (and Washington, D.C.) in which the laws are primarily the same.

The changes are across the board, and range from clarification and stronger enforcement to increased fines for non-compliance and exemption elimination. The overall focus is to make these regulations effective while reducing damage and enforcing compliance.

Those interested in accessing the report can call (507) 454-5147 or e-mail; anyone, from utilities to contractors to even those planning on doing home improvements would be wise to make themselves aware of the specific regulations in their area. Preventing damage and staying compliant is in everyone’s best interest.


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