First Time 811 Users
As a first-time user of 811, the following is information you will need to know when excavating near buried facilities.
Notified member companies will mark their underground lines with a designated color using spray paint or flags if their facilities are in conflict with the proposed excavation site. It is always good to check the facility owner response on the al811.com website to verify if all utilities have been marked or are not in conflict. The following is a list of each color code and the utility they represent:
Once the lines have been marked, state law requires that you do not dig within 18 inches on either side of the facility markings. This is known as the safety or “tolerance” zone.
If you do have to dig within the safety or “tolerance” zone, state law requires that you use “non-invasive” methods. This is commonly considered to be hand digging or use of technology known as “vacuum excavating”. When digging within the tolerance zone it is critical to use care and caution.
18 inches PLUS the diameter of the utility
Use of color-coded surface marks (paint, chalk, flags etc) is to indicate the location and route of buried facilities. Marks may indicate the name, initials, or logo of the company that owns or operates the lines to help determine the proper facility owner if needed. If the width of the facility is greater than 2” (5mm) then marking notations may indicate the width. If the surface above the buried facilities is to be removed, such as asphalt removal, then supplemental offset marks may be used. Offset markings should be on a uniform alignment and must clearly indicate the actual facility specific distance.
Alabama 811 member utilities will mark their facilities FREE of charge. The locate request you just placed is a FREE service. By using 811, our member utilities will mark the lines that belong to them, which include any facilities in the right of way of a property or up to the meter at the house or building.
Most people are excavating in the right of way or in the area where the utility owns the lines. However, if you are working around lines past the meter, these are considered service lines and are “owned” by the property owner, not the utility. This would include water lines from the meter to the house or a gas service line from the meter to a backyard grill, etc. If you will be working in those areas and find you need these service lines located in addition to what has been marked by the utilities through the 811 service, there are locating companies who can locate them for you. There may be a fee associated with them doing this. Remember, there is no charge for the request you have placed with Alabama 811.
If you talked directly to our office, the 811 agent should have given you the date for when the locate request should be marked and how long the request is good for.
The law requires a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 10 working day notice, not counting the day of notification, for excavation projects. This is to allow time for the facility owners to mark their lines. A locate request is good for 20 working days. State law requires that if you are working past the 20 working days, you need to update your request to ensure the utilities know that you are still working around their lines. Keep your reference number available, as this is proof of your notifying the utilities and complying with the state law.
If the notification period notice should expire and a particular utility has not been located, we suggest you call us back with your reference number so that we can send out a second notice to that utility requesting them to mark ASAP. This is for your protection.