Attorney General spokesperson Ashley Kieler says they try to settle the suits before they go to court. 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.
“It is noted in several of the lawsuits when these rules aren’t followed and excavation happens, sometimes utility lines that are under a great deal of pressure can be hit, and that can cause issues,” Kieler says. “I know in at least one of the lawsuits it was noted that residents around the area had lost power for a matter of time.”
The lawsuits that were settled are in Davis County, where Titan Soil, was accused of conducting excavations to repair a pond tile outlet and remove trees at a property in Bloomfield without giving the proper 48-hour notice. They agreed to a $6,500
The lawsuit in Marion County said on two separate occasions in December 2019 and June 2020, Van Den Broek Concrete failed to provide 48-hour notice and proceeded with excavations to remove and replace sidewalk and driveways in Pella. They paid $7,000.
The lawsuit in Sioux County said ID Excavating and Tiling failed to provide 48 hours notice of planned excavations to install drainage tile in Boyden. They paid a $6,000 civil penalty. In Taylor County, the lawsuit said JNC Construction began excavations to install drainage tile without a 48-hour notice, and they paid a $5,000 civil penalty.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office also sent warning letters to six utility companies.
“The warnings go out — they went to utility companies because it is their responsibility to respond to these requests for locating services. We receive complaints that wasn’t happening in a timely manner. They have 48hours to do so,” Kieler says.
The warning letters went to Alliant Energy Group, Black Hills Energy, CenturyLink, Mediacom, MidAmerican Energy, and Windstream Communications.
Kieler says the law applies to any digging that is done.
“Even homeowners — if you are going to do some work in your background — it’s important that you make sure that there are no underground utilities for your safety and for those around you,” Kieler says.