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Underground Utility Damage FAQs

What is excavation?

Excavation is the movement, placement, or removal of earth, rock, or other materials in or on the ground by use of mechanized equipment or by discharge of explosives, and includes augering, backfilling, blasting, boring, digging, ditching, drilling, grading, pile-driving, plowing-in, pulling-in, ripping, scraping, sub-soiling, trenching, and tunneling.

What is demolition?

Demolition is any operation by which a structure or mass of material is wrecked, razed, rendered, moved or removed by means of any tools, equipment, or discharge of explosives.

What are my responsibilities when excavating/demolishing?

Anyone who is planning an excavation/demolition project is required to provide notice of excavation/demolition. To have underground utility lines marked, contact Tennessee’s One-Call Center, by dialing 811 or visiting http://www.tennessee811.com/ There is no charge for requesting utility line markings. For areas that are not served by the Tennessee One-Call Center, the required notice must be served on each operator which has filed a list of underground facilities with the Register of Deeds in the county where the excavation/demolition is to occur. Identifying underground utility lines before excavating or demolishing, helps prevent injury to persons as well as damage to property and infrastructure.

How far should I stay away from utility markings when excavating or demolishing?

The “safety zone” when excavating or demolishing is a strip of land at least four feet (4’) wide, but not wider than the width of the utility plus two feet (2’) on either side of the utility. Always exercise reasonable care to avoid damage. Hand digging when practical, utilizing pneumatic hand tools, or mechanical or technical methods approved by the facility owner or operator should be used to exercise reasonable care to avoid excavation/demolition damage.

How do I have my underground utilities marked?

By dialing 811, you will reach an operator with Tennessee One-Call Center. The One-Call Center operator will open a locate ticket and notify utilities that service the proposed excavation/demolition site. You may also visit http://www.tennessee811.com/ to submit an electronic locate ticket. Remember to mark the proposed excavation area in white, such as white flags, paint, or stakes. Utilities that serve the proposed excavation/demolition area have three (3) business days to mark underground utility lines. If the proposed excavation/demolition area is not served by Tennessee One-Call Center, the required notice must be served on each operator which has filed a list of underground facilities with the Register of Deeds in the county where the excavation/demolition is to occur.

What do I do if I believe there is an unmarked line in the excavation area?

If there is clear evidence of an unmarked utility in the proposed excavation area, the excavator must call 811 to report the unmarked line before excavating/demolishing. Once this second notice is given, excavation/demolishing may begin, exercising reasonable care to avoid damage.

What do I do if I damage or discover damage to an underground utility?

Please see the UUDP home page

How do I file a complaint about a possible violation of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act?

In order to ensure timely investigations, complaints should be filed within ninety (90) days of being made aware of an alleged violation of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Actclick here to file a complaint

Can I send supporting information with my complaint?

It is recommended that you attach supporting documentation when submitting a complaint. You may attach supporting documentation to the electronic complaint form, or email tra.uudp@tn.gov. You may also mail to

Underground Utility Damage Enforcement Board
Andrew Jackson Building
502 Deaderick Street, 4th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

What happens after I file a complaint?

  • Upon filing a complaint, the complainant will be notified of the Enforcement Board’s receipt of the complaint.
  • The complaint will be assigned to an investigator.
  • After completion of the investigation, the results will be provided to the Executive Committee of the Underground
        Utility Damage Enforcement Board for possible enforcement action.
  • The Executive Committee will determine any enforcement action needed to resolve the complaint.
  • The complainant will be notified of the Executive Committee’s determination.

I received a Notice of Alleged Violation. What do I do?

If you have received a Notice of Alleged Violation (NAV) of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act, you may mail/email to the address below. A response is due within thirty (30) days of the date of the NAV. Please include any documentation you have regarding the alleged violation.

Underground Utility Damage Enforcement Board
Andrew Jackson Building
502 Deaderick Street, 4th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
tra.uudp@tn.gov

How will I know the outcome of  the complaint filed against me?

The violator/alleged violator will be notified of the outcome of the Executive Committee’s decision, any penalties assessed, and the steps necessary to remedy non-compliance with the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act.

What are the possible penalties for violations of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act?

Penalties may include training and/or a civil penalty of up to a maximum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per incident.

How long do I have to comply with ordered enforcement action?

A person has thirty (30) days to pay the civil penalty and/or submit to training.

What happens if I do not attend training or pay the fine?

If a person does not pay the civil penalty and/or submit to ordered training within thirty (30) days, a Hearing Officer will prepare the matter for Hearing.

Can a violator who has been cited contest the enforcement action?

Contests of enforcement action will be heard before a Hearing Officer.