Illegal excavations damaged utility lines
DES MOINES — Attorney General Tom Miller has filed five lawsuits in Dickinson, Woodbury, Story, Muscatine and Benton counties alleging contractors conducted illegal excavations that damaged underground utility lines in violation of the “Iowa One Call” law.
Four of the five cases were resolved with consent decrees, with civil penalties totaling $12,500. The four defendants admitted to the violations and agreed not to violate the One Call law.
The One Call law requires anyone who digs, excavates or trenches privately or commercially to first contact the Iowa One Call center to locate underground utilities.
The following four cases were resolved with consent decrees:
Dickinson County: Outdoor Heaven, L.L.C., d/b/a Demuth Landscape & Design, Milford. Civil Penalty: $5,000
According to the petition: In June 2018 in Arnolds Park, Outdoor Heaven failed to provide a 48-hour notice and proceeded with an excavation to dig footings for a retaining wall. Outdoor Heaven’s equipment hit and damaged a one-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 20 pounds per square inch of pressure. The damage resulted in remediation costs to Black Hills Energy.
Woodbury County: Lieber Construction of North Sioux City, S.D. Civil Penalty: $3,500
According to the petition: In April 2018 in Sergeant Bluff, Lieber Construction failed to provide a 48-hour notice and proceeded with an excavation for footings for a new building. Lieber Construction’s equipment hit and damaged a two-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 40 pounds per square inch of pressure. The damage resulted in a partial closure of a nearby road, loss of service to 29 MidAmerican Energy Co. customers, and remediation costs to the company.
Story County: Portable Pro, Inc., of Madrid. Civil Penalty: $3,500
According to the petition: In July 2017 in Ames, Portable Pro failed to provide a 48-hour notice and excavated to install a water line. Portable Pro’s equipment hit and damaged a one-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 55 pounds per square inch of pressure. The damage resulted in remediation costs to Alliant Energy.
Muscatine County: Todd Hackett Construction of Muscatine. Civil Penalty: $500
According to the petition: In November 2017 in Muscatine, Hackett failed to provide 48 hours of notice before excavating to install protective bollards near an electrical transformer. Hackett’s equipment hit and damaged a 13,800-volt electrical line owned by Muscatine Power and Water. The damage resulted in a loss of service to a nearby customer and remediation costs to the utility.
The following case has not been resolved:
Benton County: Todd Washburn, d/b/a TGC Contracting of Shellsburg.
According to the petition: In June 2017, TGC Contracting failed to provide a 48-hour notice before excavating to remove a mobile home anchor. TGC Contracting’s equipment hit and damaged a two-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 30 pounds per square inch of pressure. The damage resulted in a loss of service to five Alliant Energy customers and remediation costs to the utility. The Iowa Attorney General’s office seeks a civil penalty of $10,000 and a permanent injunction against TGC Contracting from violating the One Call law.
Iowa One Call Law
The One Call law requires that anyone excavating must call Iowa One Call at least 48 hours in advance of digging, to minimize the risk of damage to underground facilities, including electric, gas, communications, water and sewer lines.
Violators are subject to a civil penalty up to $10,000 per day for violations related to natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, and up to $1,000 per day involving other underground facilities. Violators also may be liable for the repair costs of damaged facilities.
Excavators, farm operations and homeowners can notify the Iowa Once Call Notification Center about planned digging or excavating online at www.iowaonecall.com, or by phone at 811 (or toll-free at 800-292-8989). The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Iowa One Call sends "locate utility requests" immediately to companies, which are required to mark underground utility locations within 48 hours with flags or paint showing where underground lines are located.
The One Call law has been in effect since 1993. Iowa One Call is paid for by owners and operators of pipelines and other underground facilities. Services provided by Iowa One Call are free to homeowners, contractors and professional excavators.
Iowa One Call media contact:
Ben Booth, Iowa One Call Public Relations/Communications Manager