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While planting a garden or filling a few flowerbeds around your home don’t require your calling for utility locates, it’s still a good idea to notify Iowa One Call before you dig a new garden – especially if you’re using power equipment such as a tiller.

Even the simple task of pounding a stake into the ground or digging a hole for a fencepost can be detrimental to un- derground water, sewer, cable TV, phone, gas or electric lines.

Of course, if your land- scaping plans are more ambitious and you’re moving into the exca- vation mode, Iowa law requires that you contact Iowa One Call to locate and mark underground utilities 48 hours prior to digging – excluding weekends and legal holidays. (State law defines “excavation” as an operation in which a structure or earth, rock or other material in or on the ground is moved, removed, com- pressed or otherwise displaced by means of any tools or equipment. This includes, but is not limited to, digging, drilling, driving, grading, scraping, trenching, tiling, tunneling, ditching and demoli- tion of structures.)

There is no charge to you for the Iowa One Call service, which will locate and mark underground facilities with colored flags and paint markings to indicate where you should avoid digging. On the other hand, failing to call and breaking the “One-Call Law” can be expensive. If you don’t notify Iowa One Call prior to excavating, you may be subject to civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation, with a maximum as high as $500,000 per incident. What typically accounts for such extreme financial liabilities are the costs of lost product such as natural gas, repair to damaged facilities and environmental clean-up operations mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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