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Farm Advisory
by Attorney General Tom Miller - May 2002

Farmers Need to Comply with Iowa's "One-Call" Law

It's fast, it's easy, it's free, it's important. And it's the law.

Everyone who digs or excavates in Iowa - including farmers installing tiles or doing other construction or demolition - is required by law to contact Iowa's "One Call" Center before they dig. Why? Iowa is laced with underground pipelines, power lines, and other utilities. The law protects the public and excavators from injury or death, and it helps prevent property damage, environmental harm, and loss of essential public services.

Iowa's One Call law is as easy as 1-2-3:

  • An excavator must notify the One Call Center at least 48 hours before digging - call 800-292-8989. The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • The One Call Center then notifies underground-utility operators of the planned excavation -- at no charge to the excavator.
  • Pipeline or other utility operators must go to the site and mark the location of their lines or facilities within 48 hours of receiving notice from the One Call Center.

Remember: Call at least 48 hours in advance, not counting weekends or legal holidays. If a farmer hires someone else to do the dig (a drainage tiler, for example), the contractor is responsible for notifying the One Call Notification Center.

Here are some tips to make the process even easier: Try to call on a day other than Monday, which is by far the busiest day for the Notification Center. Call outside of normal business hours (the Notification Center is open "24/7".) Be ready with detailed location information, including the name of the property owner, the specific location of the excavation (such as section and township, or 9-1-1 address), and directions to the site.

The One Call law has been in force since 1993 and has been effective and efficient. The law includes civil penalties for failure to notify One Call before digging -- up to $10,000 per day for violations relating to natural gas or hazardous liquid pipelines, and up to $1000 per day of excavation for other violations. Fortunately, most people are happy to comply. Nearly 400,000 One Call notices were processed last year alone.

So: "Call before you dig." For more information go to www.iowaonecall.com, or call 800-292-8989. Contact the Iowa Attorney General's Office at (515) 281-5351. The web site is www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org. (For Farm Division, see "working for farmers.")


Iowa Attorney General's Farm Division
Lucas Building, ground floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: 515/281-3389
Fax: 515/242-6072
Email: farm@ag.state.ia.us