Iowa law requires everyone to locate underground utilities before digging and/or excavating. Anyone planning to dig must call Iowa One Call at least 48 hours in advance of their excavation. Then Iowa One Call notifies the utilities, and the utility locators go out and put flags on the ground to show the location of the underground utilities.
The presence of locate flags does not necessarily mean your property will be affected. Sometimes locate requests cover a much larger area than the actual construction zone. Other times, engineers request utility locates for the purposes of designing a future project.
Locate Flag Colors
Different utilities use different colors to mark their location. Here is a guide for interpreting the flags and/or paint on your property:
Red Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit, and Lighting Cables
Yellow Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum, or Gaseous Materials
Orange Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit
Blue Water, Irrigation, and Slurry Lines
Green Sanitary sewers and Storm Drain Lines
Pink Temporary Survey Markings
White Proposed Excavation
Purple Reclaimed Water
While construction work is taking place, homeowners must not remove, relocate, or damage utility flags on their property. If mowing is necessary, try carefully mowing around flags. Do not pull flags and attempt to replace them after mowing. If a homeowner intentionally removes or relocates utility flags while construction is actively taking place, they may be held liable if underground utility lines are damaged as a result.
When construction is complete, the contractor is responsible for removing the locate flags; however, there are times when flags get left in place. In this situation, a homeowner can remove the flags from their property. It is important that flags are not removed or relocated while construction is still active.
A typical locate ticket lasts 20 days. For longer excavations, contractors will call in new locate tickets every 20 days. A good rule of thumb for homeowners is to wait a full 20 days after the construction work appears to be completed before removing any flags from your property.
Looking up a Locate Ticket
You can determine who requested utility locates in your area by visiting www.iowaonecall.com.
Under the section “Submit & Manage Tickets,” click on “Search for a Ticket.”
Then scroll to the bottom of the page, where you see a map. Search for an address or zoom to your area of interest, then click the “Create Polygon” button on the right side of the webpage. Click on the map around the outside border of your area of interest, and complete the shape by returning to your point of beginning and double-clicking. Once your area of interest is shaded, scroll to the bottom of the webpage and click “Search.”