FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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 from when notification is made to allow time for the locate request to be completed. For example, if notification is made on Monday at 8am, your excavation could begin on Wednesday at 8am. When the Call Center Agent processes the locate request, the excavator will be informed of the legal work date when the utility lines should be marked.

At the end of the two working days, we suggest you check to ensure 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 you initiate a second call back to AL811 to allow for the request to be resent 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 as well as the protection of the buried facility.

I have an emergency. Can I call in an emergency request? Under Alabama Act 93-487, an emergency is defined as a threat to life, health, property and 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 major repairs. Normally emergencies are 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 job at the jobsite. This will help if you should need to call back to AL811 to help access your original request information quickly. Also, in case a utility owner or law officer comes to the job site, this reference number will document your compliance with Alabama law.
How long are the locate remarks good for? All locate requests are good for ten (10) working days. If utility marks need to be refreshed, call AL811 at least two working days before the 10 working days have expired. Be prepared to provide your original locate request number for the excavation site. When placing a locate request, the call center agent will provide the date the marks should be good through and the date the request will need to be updated to ensure you are excavating under a valid locate request per Alabama law.
Why do I need to keep the AL811 locate request number? It is the official documentation that notification was made in case of any damage or controversy. The request number is also important to have if a call back to AL811 regarding the locate request is needed.
I am a professional excavator and I am working for a homeowner on private property. Do I have to call for a locate request or can the homeowner call? AL811 will accept information from the homeowner but state law does require that every excavator planning on digging to call in a request themselves to avoid damage and any penalties or fines outlined in the law. If the homeowner places the request, we suggest they note the excavator’s name on the locate request.
When I call AL811 for a locate request, the Call Center Agent reads a list of utilities that AL811 will notify. The agent 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 all facility owner to participate in Alabama 811. Underground facility owners are given the option to either participate in AL811 or have an in-house program that meets some of the same operational requirements as are required of AL811. However, excavators are required to notify all underground facility owners 2 working days prior to the start of excavation, whether they are or are not member of AL811.

AL811 does not provide a list of non-members for the excavator to contact because there is no requirement on non-members to supply us with information as to where their facilities exist. Therefore, AL811 is not able to determine exactly which non-members may be affected at your excavation site.

Many times, the facility owners 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 listed on your locate request to any markings posted in your proposed excavation area will, in most cases, be a safe way to acquire non-member contacts. However, your excavation site may be away from any permanent markers so you may need to contact a local city or county official to obtain more information of utilities in the area of your excavation.

If I am a general contractor and I have several subcontractors working for me, can I place all the locate requests for my subcontractors? Alabama’s law requires that the person doing the work should place the locate request. However, it does not directly address the situation of general and subcontractors. Where the liability would lie in case of a damage, would be determine by legal precedence or proceedings, unless there is a contractual agreement specifying 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 – 18” either side of the 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 is in the area. Do not use your hands to clear away the soil. For maximum safety, use an insulated object.
Are all utilities marked when I call AL811? Only members of AL811 will mark their facilities when you contact AL811.  Non-members have to be contacted directly.

Remember some utilities will only mark along the right of way or up to the meter. Service lines beyond the meter are the responsibility of the homeowner or property owner.

I have installed an electrical line to a garage or other fixture in my yard. Will that line be marked when I place my locate request? No. The utilities only mark their lines. Any additional utility lines are the responsibility of the property or homeowner.
I was digging and hit an underground line without breaking it. What should I do? If you should come into contact with a pipe, cable or its protective covering, excavation should stop immediately and notify AL811 and the facility owner. AL811 will notify the facility owner of the potential damage, but it is a best practice for the excavator to contact them directly as well so the facility owner can determine if there is any potential impact to the public. The law also requires that any damage that results in escaping flammable, corrosive, explosive or toxic liquids or gas shall notify not only the facility owner but also contact 911 and shall take reasonable actions to protect persons and property and to minimize safety hazards until the emergency responders and operator arrive to the site.
When I call for locates, why does the call center agent ask if I am going to be using explosives? Alabama’s state law requires that a locate request provide information as to whether any explosives or blasting will be done at the site. Some facility owners must take additional precautions to ensure the security of their facilities during blasting events.
What is directional boring and why am I asked about that on locate requests? Directional boring is becoming a widely used technique for the installation of underground facilities. Although this is an effective tool that saves money and time, its techniques can increase the potential for damages to existing facilities. Facility owners like to be aware if this is being done near their facilities so they can take extra precautions if necessary.
When is a facility owner required to be on site when I excavate? Some facility owners and operators may want to be on site to assist you, especially if you are crossing, paralleling or in close proximity to their facility. Each facility owner have their own guidelines and procedures to protect their facilities.
I have lived in the area all my life and I know where all the facilities are located. Do I still have to call? Yes. State law requires that anyone excavating must have the underground facilities marked. It is a public safety issue for not only those doing the work but also those who may have loss of service due to a damaged facility. Excavating without having the lines marked can result in a $10,000 per incident penalty under Alabama law.
My excavation site is marked with different color paint or flags. What do those colors mean? Facility owners are required to mark with standard color codes as established by American Public Works Association.

colorCodes

Who is responsible for maintaining the marks at the excavation site? The excavator is responsible for protecting and preserving the stakes and markings until the work has been completed. If the marks are destroyed, contact AL811 to have the utilities come back out to remark.
Do I need to pre-mark my excavation site? Pre-marking, also known as white-lining, can save time and money because the locators will know exactly where the excavation will take place and where they need to mark their lines. AL811 supports white-lining, however, this does not eliminate the need to provide appropriate information and specific location description of the proposed excavation site.
I call AL811 frequently. Can I enter my locate requests over the internet instead? Yes. You can use our Web Portal or Mobile App programs to place your locate request. This is available 24/7 for normal locate requests. You can sign up from the homepage. We do not accept requests via fax.
If I called AL811 and still damage a facility, are there penalties and fines? Penalties and fines only apply for non-compliance. If you called AL811, waited the required time and the facility marks are correct, the excavator may be responsible for repair and restoration costs to the facility.
Who do the penalties and fines apply to? Penalties and fines apply to the excavators and the underground facility owners who fail to comply with the guidelines of the law. Any exemptions are defined in the law regarding types of work activities.
Can facility owners be fined for not locating in the appropriate amount of time? Yes. Alabama’s Underground Damage Prevention Act has civil penalties that can be enacted on both excavators and facility owners for non-compliance with the law.
Who can impose the penalties and fines? Any aggrieved party (owners, operator, excavator, homeowner, district attorney, etc) can pursue collection of a penalty or fine. Alabama law states that prosecution of violations shall be by the district attorney or the Attorney General and shall be brought in the circuit court for the county in which the violation arose or in which the defendant resides or maintains his principal place of business.
I am not digging but need a locate request for survey or engineering/design work. How is that handled? AL811 can process a request for survey or engineering/design for you.   These types of requests have a five (5) day working notice. The facility owners have the option to 1) mark the approximate location of their facilities at the area of proposed excavation, 2) provide the best available description in the area and may include drawings or other facility records, or 3) allow access to inspect or copy drawings or records. 

 

FACILITY OWNERS

Who is required to be a member of Alabama 811? Alabama’s law does not include required membership. Facility owners have the option to participate in AL811 or have an in-house program that meets designated requirement. However, gas and pipeline systems are required to be members of state 811 programs under federal requirements. Membership is open to any entity that operates an underground facility service.
What does it cost to be member of Alabama 811? Membership costs are based on the number of notifications received each year. Members are charged on their previous year’s transmission to allow for a level monthly billing. The concept behind 811 is that the more people who participate the wider the costs are spread to reduce expenses to all members and help with protection of their underground facility. Almost half of our members pay the minimum rate of $420 a year.
What are my responsibilities as a member of Alabama 811? Each member must provide AL811 with the general location of their underground facilities to allow AL811 to know where to notify them of potential excavation activities in their area. Once notified of a potential conflict with your facilities, you are responsible for locating your facilities at that site.
Does Alabama’s law require positive response back to the excavator stating the site has been located? No. Alabama’s law does not currently require a positive response back to the excavator once a site has been marked or there is not conflict.   The way the law is written, a mark on the ground is a positive response. The only area that does include some type of positive response is if a request has been made and the excavator uncovers a facility that was not marked on the site. The excavator is to initiate contact with AL811 notifying of the unmarked facility and the facility owners are to respond within a four (4) hour period.
As a facility owner, I receive an extremely large number of locate requests. What compliance issues do I face if I can not complete all of the locate requests in the required amount of time? Alabama’s law does not provide for any exceptions to the requirement of locating lines within the 2 working day period. However, most excavators are willing to work with the facility owner if they are communicated to. For large projects, the law does allow for working agreements to ensure that the facilities are locating in conjunction when the excavation work will be performed at a specific area of the project.

There is a penalty provision for renewing locate requests if work is not being conducted. This is to discourage locate requests to be continually updated when no actual work is being performed.

Do facility owners have to mark their abandoned lines? Alabama’s law does not exclude marking abandoned lines. It is recommended that you do mark these facilities to ensure that an abandoned line is not exposed indicating a false location of live facilities at the job site.
I have received a request for a locate direct from the excavator. Should I assume this is the same as receiving a request from AL811? Because the law currently allows the excavator to notify the utilities directly or AL811 if that facility is a member, this can be done.   However, we suggest you refer them to contact AL811 so that your record of locate requests is completed and documented consistently for both you and the excavator.
As an owner/operator, am I required to provide maps or sketches to excavators? Maps and sketches are not required but can be useful. AL811 encourages any additional information to be communicated between the facility owner and the excavator if it helps to reduce damages to the facilities.
I have received a request for survey or engineering/design purposes and not excavation. Do I still have to respond? Yes. These types of requests have a five (5) day working notice. The facility owners have the option to 1) mark the approximate location of their facilities at the area of proposed excavation, 2) provide the best available description in the area and may include drawings or other facility records, or 3) allow access to inspect or copy drawings or records.