Iowans who plan to plant a tree, build a deck or put up a fence all have something in common — they all need to call “Iowa One Call” before getting out the shovel. Utility companies will mark on the yard where it’s safe –and not safe– to dig within 48 hours. It’s not just a convenience, it’s the law. Ben Booth, a spokesman for the service, says calls to the free hotline rise every year. In June, the statewide hotline had more than 44,000calls and there were 47,000 calls in May. The call center in Davenport processes 370,000 calls a year resulting in more than two-million “locates” by utility companies. Booth says there’s no way to tell how many Iowans ignore the law and dig without calling, but many hundreds learn their lesson the hard way. Booth says 1098 “dig-ins” have been reported so far this year where lines or facilities were hit. That’s less than one-percent of the calls received, so he says “It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Not only is hitting a buried line potentially expensive, it could also cost lives if something dangerous is hit — like a natural gas line — or if a phone line is sliced along with a community’s 9-1-1 service. Booth says very stiff penalties can be imposed. The Iowa Attorney General’s office enforces the ten-year-old law with hefty civil violations and fines that can be up to half-a-million dollars if you don’t call Iowa One Call and cause a hazardous liquids spill, for example. The hotline to call is: 800 292-8989.
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