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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Excavators

From The Time I Notify Alabama 811, How Long Do I Have To Wait To Excavate?

State law requires that you must wait two working days after notification is made to allow time for the locate request to be acted upon. For example, if notification is made on Monday at 8:00 a.m., your excavation could begin on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m.

When the CSR takes the locate request, the excavator will be informed of the legal work date when the utility lines should be marked.

However, if after that two working day notice has expired, we suggest you check to ensure that all visible signs of potentially buried utilities indicate that all lines have been marked. If there are signs of buried facilities that have not been located, we suggest that you initiate a second call back to AL 811 so that the locate request can be sent back out to the member facility owners letting them know that all lines have not been marked. As part of this second notice to the utilities, they should respond and have the site located as soon as possible. This is for your own safety and protection as well as the protection of the buried facility.

I Have An Emergency. Can I Call In An Emergency Request?

Under Alabama Act 94-487, an emergency is defined as a threate to life, health, property or public service.  In the case of an emergency, an excavator may excavate as needed to minimize any pending threat, but should notify the utilities as soon as possible before commencing any major repairs.  Normally emergencies are considered to need responded to as soon as the utilities are able to have someone dispatched to the site.

Do I Need To Maintain Documentation At The Excavation Site?

It is recommended that you maintain a copy of your locate request number assigned to your particular job on the jobsite itself. This will help if you should need to call back to AL 811 to allow for a quicker response in determining the correct locate request to re-process. Also, in the case of a utility owner or law officer coming to the site to investigate any excavation activity, this reference number will be your documentation of compliance with Alabama's law.

How Long Are The Locate Marks Good For?

All locate marks are good for ten (10) working days. If marks need to be refreshed, call AL 811 at least two business days before the 10 working day period has expired. To speed up the process, have your ticket number available when making the call.

When placing your locate request, the CSR will provide you the dates that the marks should be good through and the date that the locate request will need to be update to ensure you are excavating under a valid locate request per Alabama law.

Why Do I Need To Keep AL 811 Ticket Number?

It is official documentation that a call was made in case of damage or controversy. The ticket number is also important to have if an excavator needs to call back to have marks refreshed or if locates for a particular job have not been furnished.

I Am A Professional Excavator And I'm Working For A Homeowner On Private Property. Do I Have To Call For A Locate Request Or Can A Homeowner Call?


AL 811 will accept information from a homeowner, but state law requires that every excavator planning on moving any earth or doing any digging call in a locate request themselves to avoid damages and any penalties and fines as outlined in the law.

Can Facility Owners Be Fined For Not Locating In The Appropriate Amount Of Time?

Yes. Alabama's Underground Damage Prevention Act currently has civil penalties that can be enacted on both excavators and facility owner for non- compliance with the law.

When I Call AL 811 For A Locate Request, The CSR Reads A List Of Utilities That AL 811 Will Notify. The CSR Then Instructs Me To Notify Any Non-Members On My Own. Why Do I Have To Make Those Additional Calls?

Alabama's law does not currently require mandatory membership in Alabama 811. Underground facility owners are given the option to either participate in AL 811 or have an in-house program that meets some of the same operational requirements as are placed on AL 811.
However, excavators are required to notify all underground facility owners 2 working days prior to start of excavation, whether they are or are not members of AL 811.

AL 811 does not provide a list of non-members for the excavator to contact because there is no requirement on non-member to supply us with information as to where their facilities are located. Therefore, AL 811 is not able to determine exactly which non-members may be affected at your excavation site.

Many times, the utilities in a specific area will be listed on some sort of marking in the easement or right-of-way; simply comparing the listing of member operators given by the customer service representative to any markings posted in your proposed excavation area will, in most cases, be a safe way to acquire non-member contacts. However, your proposed excavation site may be away from any permanently marked right-of-way, you may need to contact a local city official to obtain more information of any utilities in your area.

If I'm A General Contractor And I Have Several Subcontractors Working For Me, Can I Call In All The Locates For My Subcontractors?

Alabama's law required that the person doing the work should call in the locate request. However it does not directly address the situation of general and sub contractors. Where the liability would lie in the case of damaged would be determined through a legal proceeding, unless any contractual agreement specified the responsible party.

A Utility Line Runs Through My Proposed Excavation Area. What Should I Do?

The law requires excavators to observe an eighteen (18) inch safety or tolerance zone - eighteen inches on each side of a marked utility line. While digging inside the safety zone proceed cautiously with non-invasive equipment. If you encounter a rigid object, carefully clear away the soil to determine what you've reached. Do not use you hands to clear away the soil. For maximum safety, use an insulated object.

I Have Installed An Electrical Line To A Garage Or Other Fixture In My Yard. Will That Line Be Marked?

No. The utilities only mark their lines. Any additional utility lines are the responsibility of the homeowner.

I Was Digging And Hit An Underground Line Without Breaking It. What Should I Do?

If any contact with or damage to any pipe, cable, or its protective covering, or any other underground facility occurs, the excavator causing the contact or damage shall cease excavation and immediately notify AL 811 and the facility owner. AL 811 will notify the facility owner(s) (in addition to the excavator notifying the owner) if the facility damage could impact the general public in dealing with hazardous materials or volatile or dangerous facilities like electric or gas. It's up the excavator to notify all appropriate emergency response entities. It's important to notify AL 811 when a facility becomes exposed, impacted, changed or modified to ensure that prior to burial of that facility it is restored and in good condition. Several disasters around the nation have occurred because minor nicks, cuts or scrapes to facilities were not reported. It might not appear to be important at the time, but as years go by and as a facility deteriorates, a catastrophe can happen.

We suggest you also contact the utility owner directly because often, due to additional requirements on their industry, they need additional information beyond just to locate site.

When I Call For Locates, Why Do The CSRs Ask If I'm Going To Be Using Explosives?

Alabama's state law requires that a locate request provide information as to whether any explosives, or blasting, will done at the site. Some utility owners must make additional procedural responses for any explosive work done near their facilities to ensure their integrity.

What Is Directional Boring, And Why Am I Asked About This On Every Ticket Processed?

Directional boring is becoming a widely used technique for the installation of underground facilities. Although it's an effective tool that saves time and money, its techniques can increase the potential for damages to existing underground facilities. Our members have indicated to us that they would like to know when anyone is using directional boring or any time of boring in their service area.

When Is A Facility Owner Required To Be On Site When I Excavate?

Some facility owners and operators may require that they be on site to assist you, especially if you're crossing, paralleling or are in close proximity to their facility. Each facility owner has its own set of guidelines and procedures, and their goal is to protect their own utilities. AL 811 promotes working together and communicating to prevent damages.

I've Lived In This Area All My Life. I Know Where All The Facilities Are. Do I Still Have To Call For Locates?

Yes. Anyone that moves earth in anyway must call. Damages can still occur and facilities can be cut even if you think you know where the facilities are. It's a public safety issue for not only those that a service interruption might affect, but also for those doing the work. You may be subject to penalties and fines as outlined in Alabama law. Remember, there is the potential for up to $10,000 fine for not complying with Alabama's Underground Damage Prevention Act.

Who Do The Penalties And Fines Apply To?

Penalties and fines apply to excavators and underground facility owners. The only exemptions are defined in the law regarding types of work activities.

Who Is Responsible For Maintaining The Markings At The Excavation Site?

The contractor/excavator is responsible for protecting and preserving the stakes and markings or other designations until they are no longer necessary. If the marks are destroyed, call AL 811 back for the utilities to come back out to remark.

If You Call AL 811 And Damage A Facility, Are There Penalties And Fines?

Penalties and fines only apply for non-compliance. You must call AL 811 prior to excavation. However, when damage occurs to an underground facility and it's marked correctly, the excavator will be responsible for the damage and the restoration of that facility. Remember, you cannot commence excavation until the facilities are properly located; calling AL 811 is not enough.

Do I Need To Pre-Mark My Excavation Sites?

Pre-marking will save you time and money, because the locators will know exactly where you want them to locate. AL 811 supports the use of "white lining" or pre-marking of all excavation areas when appropriate. 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.

Who Can Impose The Penalties And Fines?

Any aggrieved party (owner, operator, excavator, homeowner, district attorney, or attorney general) can pursue collection of a penalty or fine. Alabama law states that "prosecution of violations of this act shall be by district attorney or the attorney general and shall be brought in the circuit court for the county in which the violation, or some part thereof, arose or in the circuit court for the county in which the defendant resides or maintains his principal place of business within the state."

My Dig Site Is Marked With Different Colored Lines And/Or Flags. What Do These Colors Mean?

Utility owners follow the standard for color coding their facilities as established by the American Public Works Association.


I Call Alabama 811 Frequently. Can I Fax Or E-Mail A Request To Alabama 811 Or Submit One On-Line through the internet?

We are now training interested companies on our Web Portal program. This allows contractors to enter in their requests through the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information click on the link above or the direct link from the home page. There is even a tutorial you can watch from the homepage.

We no longer accept locate requests via fax.

What Terminology Do The Utilities And AL 811 Use To Describe The Area To Be Marked?

The following are explanations of important terms used by AL 811. The correct use of these terms will insure the accurate marking of your proposed excavation site:

  • Front: From the front of the house/property forward to the curb.
  • Rear: From the back of the house/property back to the rear property line.
  • Side: From the side of the house/property out to the side property line.
  • Both sides of the road: You must specify what part of the lot you want marked on both sides of the road. For example "Mark the front of the lots on both sides of the street." This does not include any of the road. You must specify the road area to have it marked.

FACILITY OWNERS

Who's Required To Belong To AL 811?

Any person or firm, including public utilities, governmental agency, political subdivisions or other persons who own or operate a public or private underground facility which furnishes services, information or materials, or transports or transmits electric energy, light, water, steam oil, gasses, gas, mixture of gases, petroleum, petroleum products, hazardous or flammable liquids, toxic or corrosive fluids and gases or items of like nature and telecommunications, cable television, water, drainage, sewage and traffic control systems or other systems of like nature.

However, Alabama's law does not include mandatory membership in AL 811. Underground facility owners have the option to participate in AL 811 or have an in-house program that meets designated requirements as defined in the law.

Explain The Types Of Memberships AL 811 Offers And The Costs Involved?

AL 811 has four type of Memberships; Principal, General, Associate and Supporting.
Principal and General members are defined in the by-laws as "Any entity which owns or operates a public or private underground facility which furnishes services, information or materials, or transports or transmits electric energy, light, water, steam, oil, gas, gases, mixture of gases, petroleum, petroleum products, hazardous or flammable liquids, toxic or corrosive fluids and gases or items of like nature and telecommunications, cable television, water, drainage, sewage and traffic control systems or other systems of like nature.”

Principal members pay a weighted portion of the Corporation’s annual invoiced revenues and General members split the remainder of the annual invoiced revenues. The revenues are calculated based on the proposed budget and the previous year's transmissions for the members.

Associate membership is defined in they by-laws as "any entity which is qualified to do business in the State of Alabama and does business in the State of Alabama and in doing so, as a contract locator or a contractor, furnishes goods or services to a Principal or General Member; or, any entity which wishes to receive notifications of certain proposed excavation activities and also shares the concerns and promotes the objectives of the Corporation for the protection of the general public, excavators and underground facilities. Associate members pay a flat per transmission rate as determined by the Board of Directors.

Supporting membership is defined in the by-laws as "any entity which is qualified to do business in the State of Alabama and does business in the State of Alabama and which does within the course and scope of its activities furnish goods, services, information or advice to a Principal, General or Associate Member; or to any person, firm, business entity, governmental agency or political subdivision availing itself of the services of the Corporation and also shares the concerns and promotes the objectives of the Corporation for the protection of the general public, excavators and underground facilities. Supporting members pay a flat $100 per year fee.

What Are My Responsibilities As A Member Of AL 811?

Each member must provide AL 811 with the location of all their underground utilities as required under the current operating procedures of AL 811. For every locate requested, you should use reasonable care to either mark your facility or communicate to the excavator the non-existence of your facility in the proposed excavation area. The facility must be marked according to the color code as outlined in Alabama's law.

Does Alabama's Law Require Positive Response Back To The Excavators Stating The Site Has Been Located?

No, Alabama's current legislation does not require positive response back to the excavator letting them know that your lines have been located or that you are not affected. The way our current law is written, a mark on the ground is a positive response.

The only area that our law addresses positive response can be found in §37-15-6 (a) (3) that states that if an excavator comes across a facility that was not previously located, that he must initiate a call back to the one call center and the utilities are required to respond within four (4) hours and provide positive response relative to any of their known underground facilities, active or abandoned, at the site of excavation.

Do I Need To Provide Information For Engineering, Survey Or Design Locates?

Alabama's law was revised in January 2015 and not specifically addresses requests for utility marking for survey and design purpose. These requests should be designated for that type of work. No excavation can be performed on a design/survey request. These requests have a five (5) working day response time. Utilities have an option to respond with 1) physical markings at the site 2) provide copies of their utility maps or 3) provide access to view their utility maps.

As A Member Operator, I Receive An Extremely Large Number Of Locate Requests. What Compliance Issues do I Face When I Can't Complete All Of The Locates In The Proper Amount Of Time?

Alabama law does not provide for any exceptions to the requirements related to locate requests. The facility owner should work and communicate with the excavator to provide the location of their facilities in a timely manner in spite of a large number of locate requests. On large projects or stretches, the law does allow for working agreements to ensure that the facilities are located in conjunction when the excavation work should reach a specified area.

However, there is a penalty provision for renewing tickets if work is not being conducted on those site. This is to discouraged requests continually being updated when no work is being performed.

Do Facility Owners Have To Mark Their Abandoned Facilities?

Alabama's law does not exclude marking abandoned facilities. It is recommended that you do mark these facilities to ensure that an abandoned facility is not exposed indicating the false location of existing facilities to the excavator at the job site.

I Am A Facility Owner. I Have Received A Request For A Locate Directly From An Excavator. Should I Assume This Is The Same As Receiving A Locate Request From AL 811?

Because the law currently allows for excavators to notify utility companies directly, this can be done. However, we suggest that you refer them back to us so that your records of locates is complete and are documented consistently for both you and the excavators. Plus, that is the service that we are to provide for you so no need to do it for yourself.

As An Owner/Operator, Am I Required To Provide Maps And/Or Sketches To Excavators?

Maps and sketches are not required but are extremely useful. AL 811 encourages facility owners to provide maps, sketches, diagrams, etc., to excavators. Additional information can help prevent damages in cases where marks are destroyed, and can serve as a crosscheck for facilities that may be marked incorrectly.

Do I Have To Mark Water And/Or Sewer Lines?

All underground cables and lines in public access areas should be marked before any type of excavation activity can begin. This includes alleys, streets, etc. Some water/sewer companies do not locate the lateral (i.e. service) lines from the sewer main or water meter on the street to the home. Others may provide a courtesy locate but will not accept liability for such locates. The lateral lines, which are owned by the homeowner, can be located by referring to the home's blue print, requesting prints from the water/sewer company, or may be marked by a private locator. AL 811 encourages all members to locate facilities on public or private property for the safety of the excavator, general public and the environment.

 
Alabama 811 ::: 3104 Bates Lane ::: Fultondale, Alabama ::: 35068 ::: Administrative Phone - 205.731.3200 ::: Fax - 205.731.3249 ::: Locate Requests - 800.292.8525 ::: 811 ::: Birmingham Area - 252.4444