GUCA Members Discuss Changes to State’s Dig Laws

Mon June 06, 2005 - Southeast Edition

More than 30 guests and attendees gathered at the Hilltop Grille in Athens, GA, on April 27 for the GUCA membership meeting.

Members present were welcomed by Membership Committee Chairman Billy Padgett, of Strack Inc., who recognized special guests and sponsors in attendance.

Keynote speaker Mike Joyner, of Utilities Protection Center, addressed the group on revisions to the Georgia Dig Law (GUFPA). Joyner highlighted the major changes to GUFPA, which include:

• Allows minimally-intrusive excavation in the tolerance zone, such as hand digging, vacuum excavation, etc.

• Provides for sewer system owner or operator assist in locating sewer laterals up to the edge of the public right of way.

• Provides for local government to be fined for not locating underground utilities or locating underground utilities inaccurately as defined by the law.

• Provides for all utilities to be considered extended up to the connection of the customer facilities.

• If a utility owner or operator refuses to locate underground utilities facilities, and there are no obvious or visible signs of utilities, excavation can begin as long as reasonable care is taken and you waited the appropriate 48 hours. Contractors will not be fined for damaging a utility.

• If utility owner or operator refuses to locate underground utilities facilities, the excavator can locate the facilities and charge the cost of locating back to the utility owner or operator.

• On new subdivision developments, permanent markers are allowed to be used to mark facilities. Developers are allowed this method of marking utilities instead of becoming members of the Utilities Protection Center. Cities and counties will continue to take over ownership of utilities when the utilities are signed over.

• If someone destroys a permanent marker, they must replace that marker. It is the responsibility of the excavator to maintain the permanent marker.

• A definition of a large project, one that is too large for one locate ticket request, will be determined by the Georgia Public Service Commission Advisory Board.

• Keeping a locate ticket open when no excavation is taking place will result in a $100 fine per locate ticket.

• Gives more authority to the PSC Advisory Committee to hear complaints and violation processes.

• Provides for a third excavation seat to serve on the PSC Advisory Committee.

Afterward, a lively discussion ensued regarding locates in Georgia.

Industry updates including essential NPDES information was discussed by Vikki McReynolds, GUCA executive director. She also brought the group up to date on GUCA’s Scholarship Foundation Fun Run. The Fun Run will be held along with an auction at the 2005 Annual Conference scheduled for June 16 to 19 in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

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