Before cold weather sets in, many Iowans have some chores they need to do that involves digging in their yards — planting trees or shrubs, digging fence post holes or maybe putting up a clothes line. Ben Booth, spokesman for Iowa One Call, says by calling the toll-free number, utility companies will mark where underground lines are located. Booth reminds, it’s not an option to call, it’s a necessity. It’s a mandate and a state law, so people who don’t use the One Call system are breaking the law, plus, if you damage an underground cable or pipeline of some sort, you’ll likely be financially liable for it. If you happen to hit some sort of gasoline pipeline or another type of hazardous liquid, Booth says the civil penalties alone can be extremely expensive. The fines can be as high as ten-thousand dollars per day, per violation, up to a half-million dollars. For other utilities, including natural gas, electric, water, communications or cable TV, fines can be up to one-thousand dollars a day, up to 20-thousand dollars. Booth says the financial obligations don’t stop with the civil penalties. Besides the civil fines, there’s also the liability for the damage. Booth adds, “Why would you want to gamble when the call into Iowa One Call is a free call and the service to locate the facilities is a free service?” Once you call the hotline, the paint marks indicating underground lines will be made on your land within 48 hours, not counting weekends and holidays. The hotline is 800 292-8989.
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