Tennessee State Law (Quick Summary)
In the state of Tennessee, State Law requires anyone about to engage in either digging, excavation, moving of earth, demolition or any type of activity that disturbs the earth and therefore possibly involving a danger to damaging underground utility lines, to notify Tennessee 811, of their intent to dig.
Tennessee 811 will then notify the member utilities of your proposed work. The utility company locator will then have 72 hours, excluding holidays and weekends, to locate those underground facilities.
In addition to calling Tennessee 811, you may also want to contact any non-member utilities that you know are in the area of your proposed work.
The locate ticket you receive is only valid for 15 calendar days from the start date indicated on the ticket, after which time, it expires. If you wish to continue working, you must call in at least 3 working days before the expiration date to renew your locate ticket, at which time you would be given a new ticket number.
The complete state law is shown in its entirety by clicking on the link. Do NOT use the above quick summary as the complete representation of the law.
Tennessee 811 would be happy to clarify any questions you might have regarding the law and outline helpful guidelines and procedures of excavation.
The New Law was effective May, 2015.
What is Tennessee 811?
TENNESSEE 811 is Tennessee's statewide one-call notification system that was developed in order to provide excavators and the general public the ability to inform multiple owners of underground facilities of excavation with a single call. TENNESSEE 811 is a not-for-profit independent company that processes information from excavators and passes that information on to affected utilities. TENNESSEE 811 does not do any physical locating or marking of buried facilities in the field, therefore, TENNESSEE 811 is not responsible for incorrect marking or damages resulting from failing to mark in a timely fashion.
Do I have to call before I dig?
In one word - YES! Tennessee's code, 65-31-101, (Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act) requires anyone who engages in, or is responsible for, the planning or performance of any type of excavation e.g.; grading, demolition, cultivating, augering, blasting, or boring to provide advance notice of at least three full business days to TENNESSEE 811 by dialing 811, 800-351-1111, or online via a Remote Ticket Entry program or E-Ticket program. The on-line links are found on our website at tenn811.com.
The call-center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to take ticket requests. TENNESSEE 811 must be contacted prior to excavation in order to comply with the state statute.
Can I request , or UPDATE, re-marking of a site?
You may request a re-mark after an original locate request ticket has been placed and one of the following conditions exists:
A facility is unmarked.
Positive Response is not posted.
Missing or destroyed markings.
Unable to start work on time.
The original ticket number is required to obtain an update ticket.
What about the depth of underground facilities?
Facility owner/operators have no control over depth variation caused by human interference, weather, or other circumstances. As a result, facilities will only mark the approximate location, not the depth of buried facilities.
Why do I have to "hand dig" around a marked facility?
Locating is not an exact science; therefore, the actual location of the facility could vary from the position of the marks. Section 65-31-108-(c) An excavator shall exercise reasonable care to avoid damage caused by an excavation or demolition within the safety zone around the marked location of the underground utilities. For the purpose of this section, “safety zone” means 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.
(d) If, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, the excavator observes clear evidence of the presence of an unmarked utility in the area of the proposed excavation, the excavator shall not begin excavating until an additional notice is made to the one-call. The excavator may then proceed, exercising reasonable care to avoid damage to the utility which may be caused by such excavation or demolition.
What is "approximate location"?
The approximate location 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. Also known as the “safety zone”.
What is Positive Response?
Positive Response is a system housed at the TENNESSEE 811 call-center that allows any participating member, or their authorized locating contractor, to provide status of dig tickets sent to them by TENNESSEE 811. Once the member or the locating contractor determines the status of the ticket, such as clear or marked, they must then post that response to the system. The posted status is then attached to the ticket and stored on the Positive Response server. The posted status can then be retrieved by the requester of the ticket by clicking the link on our website under QuickLinks/PositiveResponse. Our website is located at tenn811.com.
How soon can I dig once the locate request has been placed?
It is very important to wait until the legal start date and time assigned. Beginning work earlier can result in forfeiture of your rights and protections granted under the Tennessee code, 65-31-101. TENNESSEE 811 will issue the earliest legal start date possible, usually three business days after you contact TENNESSEE 811.
How long is a locate request valid?
A ticket remains valid for 15 calendar days after the legal dig start date requested on the TENNESSEE 811 ticket. It is, however, the excavator's responsibility to get the marks refreshed when needed. A ticket becomes invalid only if the work continues past 15 calendar days, or the locate marks are missing or need refreshing. In addition, if excavation has not commenced on a project within 15 calendar days, a new TENNESSEE 811 ticket will be required.
If a homeowner hires a contractor to do excavation work, who is responsible for calling Tennessee 811?
Each person responsible for such excavation or demolition shall serve written, telephonic or e-mail notice of intent to excavate or demolish at least three (3) working days prior to the actual date of excavation or demolition, but not more than ten (10) full working days prior to such time, unless a different period has been agreed to in writing by the person responsible for the excavation or demolition and the operator or designated representative.
Should a period of time of fifteen (15) calendar days from the actual date specified to start excavation or demolition expire without the excavation or demolition being completed, then the person responsible for such excavation or demolition shall serve an additional written, telephonic or e-mail notice of intent to excavate or demolish at least three (3) working days prior to the expiration of time on the fifteenth calendar day.
Tennessee 811’s main goal is damage prevention. The most important thing is that underground lines are located! Therefore, Tennessee 811 will NEVER refuse a call based on who is, and is not, doing the work. This applies to new tickets, updates, 2nd and 3rd notices.
What is a private facility?
A private facility is a facility located on real property a person or business owns or occupies. Examples of private facilities include electric, gas and/or communications lines owned by a business, or homeowner-owned underground sprinkler systems, invisible dog fences, or electricity to a detached garage. Because private facilities are not required to become TENNESSEE 811 members, they will not be notified of an intent to dig. It is the excavator's duty to notify the owners of private facilities of their intent to dig.
What information will I be asked when contacting Tennessee 811?
Your name and phone number
The contractor or person doing the work.
Field contact information, email(optional), text/sms(optional)
The geographical location (county, city, village, or township) of the work area.
The address where the work will be done.
Nearest cross streets to the work site
The type of work being done; for example, installing a fence or building a deck.
Information about the project area that identifies the boundaries for the utility representatives; for example, locate underground utility lines 100 feet from the north side of the house; locate underground utility lines in the entire yard; or locate underground utility lines in the front yard.