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Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act: 811 - "Call Before You Dig"



Local governments, public utilities, and private utilities have been installing a large variety of underground facilities throughout the state for decades: sewer, water, gas and stormwater pipes; electrical and telecommunications cables; and high volume natural gas and hazardous liquids transmission pipelines. This huge investment in underground linear facilities is at risk when anyone excavates soil without first finding out whether there are underground pipes or conduit in the vicinity. Because state and local governments control the rights-of-way and issue permits for many projects involving excavations, it is crucial that proper procedures are followed so that these facilities are not damaged, and people are not injured or killed.

Federal legislation requires that all states enact legislation providing for a simple, effective process for facilitating communication between those who own and operate underground facilities and those who do excavation work. We now have the national 811 "call before you dig" process.

Washington's "811 - call before you dig" statutes are located in Ch. 19.122 RCW. The statutes were substantially revised by the passage of E2SHB 1634 in 2011. The revisions do not go into effect until January 1, 2013, but we recommend that all local governments become familiar with the new requirements. A significant change involves the locating of utility service laterals. There will need to be training sessions prior to 2013 for local government utility department employees, to make sure that all those involved in locating utilities or excavating understand their rights and responsibilities.

Local governments now have additional responsibilities in regard to the permitting process for excavation work that is done near transmission pipelines (the larger pipelines that transport large volumes of natural gas or hazardous liquids, often at higher pressures). We expect that a growing number of jurisdictions will be adopting pipeline safety code provisions and procedures to comply with these requirements.

Can You Dig it? A summary of the statutory changes adopted in 2011, effective in 2013.


Local Government Documents

Note that the following code provisions do not incorporate the 2011 legislative amendments to Ch. 19.122 RCW. We ask cities, counties and special purpose districts that adopt new regulations or policies regarding the underground utility locate process to provide copies to MRSC.

Last Modified: April 29, 2016