Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Nevada Regional Common Ground Alliance (NRCGA)?

The Nevada Regional Common Ground Alliance is a statewide, member-driven organization open to any individual, organization, municipality or corporation interested in the promotion of underground damage prevention in the state of Nevada. The NRCGA has been a regional partner of the national Common Ground Alliance since 2005. There are approximately 70 regional CGA partners nationwide.

The NRCGA promotes the CGA’s mission to reduce damages to underground infrastructure by:

  • Promoting the use of the CGA best practices to help eliminate damages to underground facilities, interruption to vital services, safety risks, accidents and fatalities.
  • Encouraging stakeholders to accept and fulfill their shared responsibility in damage prevention.
  • Welcoming all stakeholders within Nevada and encouraging their participation with the NRCGA.
  • Identifying issues concerning damage prevention within Nevada and attempting to construct practices to resolve them.
  • Exchanging ideas and information with other regional CGA partners. When a new damage prevention practice is created, the NRCGA may forward the practice onto the appropriate CGA committee for their consideration as a best practice.

The NRCGA provides a forum for members and non-members to exchange information and ideas at monthly meetings. Members are from the following stakeholder groups: engineering/design, electric, excavator, gas, locator, one call (811 call center), pipeline, public works, state regulator, road builder, sewer, telecommunications, and water. Members include: NV Energy, SW Gas, Kern River Gas Transmission Company, Las Vegas Paving, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, USA North 811, Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, Paiute Pipeline, CenturyLink, City of Henderson, Clark County Water Reclamation District, and Q&D Construction, to name just a few. Members are very motived and committed to the NRCGA’s goal of reducing damage to underground utilities.

2. What is the Common Ground Alliance (CGA)?

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Transportation sponsored the Common Ground Study of One Call Systems and Damage Prevention Best Practices. Following the completion of the study, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) was established to foster the spirit of shared responsibility among all parties involved in the damage prevention process. The CGA is now comprised of approximately 1,400 volunteer members who work collectively to enhance underground damage prevention and identify and promote best practices aimed at keeping communities and the environment safe from the undesired consequences of damage to buried utilities. To learn more about the CGA, visit commongroundalliance.com.

3. How can I become an NRCGA member?

It’s easy to become an NRCGA member! Visit our Membership web page to learn more about membership benefits and dues and download a PDF membership form. If you have any questions, please email info@nrcga.org.

4. How can I receive NRCGA meeting minutes and announcements?

Visit our Meeting Information & Minutes web page to view minutes from past monthly meetings. Sign up to our email list to receive monthly meeting reminders and occasional NRCGA announcements. If you have any questions about NRCGA meetings, please email info@nrcga.org.

5. What is USA North 811?

USA North 811 is Nevada’s 811 call center and Nevada’s Association for Operators. Association for operators is an organization that receives notifications about planned excavations and transmits those notifications to its members. USA North currently has 199 members in Nevada. These members include public and private utilities with underground facilities (buried cables and pipes), including gas, water, electricity and telecommunications. Click here to view a PDF list of USA North’s Nevada members.

After a person (homeowner, excavator or utility) calls 811 and speaks to a USA North customer service representative, USA North transmits details of the planned excavation to all participating members who may have underground facilities at the excavation site. Upon receiving the planned excavation report, members will mark or stake the horizontal path of their facilities, provide information about the location of their facilities, or advise the excavator that the member has no facilities affected by the excavation.

6. What happens when I call 811?

A USA North customer service representative (CSR) will answer the phone and begin asking you a series of questions designed to pin point your proposed excavation area for your location request. Once the information is taken, the CSR will give you a location request ticket number and offer to read the names of the USA North member operators that will be receiving your location request ticket. For your convenience, USA North will attempt to email you a copy of the location request ticket, or you can go to the USA North website at usanorth811.org and print out your location request ticket. USA North will notify the affected member operators that may have underground facilities within the proposed excavation area, and the member operators or their locating contractor will locate and mark their facilities with the required color.

7. Can I request 811 services online?

You can request service online through the USA North website, usanorth811.org.

8. What is the cost for requesting a location request from the operators?

Calling 811 and using the USA North service to request a location request ticket is a free service to anyone excavating in Nevada. The USA North member operators pay for this service as part of their continued effort to promote damage prevention throughout the state. Some sewer operators may charge for locating sewer laterals (refer NRS 455.125).

9. When can I start digging after I make the call?

Nevada law requires a public or private excavator to give a minimum of a 2 working day notice before excavating with mechanical equipment. This allows operators time to complete their location marks in the proposed excavation area. “working day” is defined by Nevada Revised Statute as “every day from 7am to 5pm, except Saturday, Sunday and any federal or state holiday.” (NRS 455.105) If you start before the required 2 working days, you may be accepting liability for damages.

10. May I start my excavation before the two working day deadline?

Nevada law requires public or private excavators to give a 2-working day notice before excavating with mechanical equipment. However, the law does allow an excavation to occur without waiting the two working days if the excavation is required because of an emergency. Emergency is defined as “a sudden, unexpected occurrence that involves clear and imminent danger and requires immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of life or damage to health, property or essential public services.” (NRS 455.090) It is strongly recommended that all excavators wait the full two working days before digging. This gives the USA North member operators time to mark their facility(ies) in the excavation area. Remember: if you dig before the required two working days, you may be accepting liability for damages.

11. Can I work under someone else’s locate request?

Each excavator is required to have their own locate request. The service is easy and free, and having locates done for your own job limits your liability.

12. How long is the line location active?

In Nevada, a line locate request is active for 28 calendar days from the date you call in the location request. If your work is not completed within the initial 28 calendar days, you can contact USA North and request an extension. Each excavator is allowed to extend their location request ticket 2 times. Each extension is good for another 28 calendar days.

13. How do the operators know where to mark their buried facilities?

Before calling USA North, the excavator/homeowner must mark the proposed excavation area with white marking products such as paint, flags, stakes, or whiskers, or a combination of these. Homeowners can use white flour. White paint and other white marking products can be purchased at most hardware stores. If the excavation is going to occur in a dirt area, wet weather or high winds may remove the paint before the operators can get out there and mark their buried facilities. If you going to excavate in dirt use white flags, stakes or whiskers to define the excavation site.

14. How should I place the white marks or white flagging to outline my excavation area?

The proposed excavation area needs to be defined well enough so the operators can clearly see where to mark their underground facilities. Guidelines for excavation delineation can be found in Appendix B of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Best Practices document. The document is available for viewing on the CGA website, www.commongroundalliance.com website, or by selecting Appendix B here. You can also view the marking guidelines on USA North’s website at www.usanorth.org look for Marking Guidelines and the Law.

15. Will all buried facilities be marked when I call for line locations?

Only member operators of USA North who have said they may have facilities in that area of your excavation will be notified. USA North member operators will mark or stake the horizontal path of the facility, provide information about the location of their facility or will advise the excavator that the operator has no facilities that will be affected by your excavation. It is important that you notify any non-member of USA North who has facilities in your excavation area.

16. How will I know which color is representing which facility?

Each type of buried facility is marked in the appropriate color, and the operator’s identifier (name, abbreviation or initials) will be included when other companies are using the same color. Information as to the width and composition of the buried facility will be marked as well as a description of the facility. As an example, communication lines are marked in orange so an AT&T fiber optic in 4”steel would be marked AT&T FO(4”STL). Operators will use paint, flags, stakes, whiskers or a combination in the appropriate color to identify the operator’s facility(s) at or near an excavation site. The color code guide below illustrates the colors used for each type of underground facility:

White…………..Proposed Excavation

Pink……………Temporary Survey Markings

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……………..Potable Water

Purple .…………Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines

Green………….Sewers and Drain Lines

For examples of facility delineations, review Appendix B of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Best Practices document. The document is available for viewing on the CGA website, www.commongroundalliance.com, and by clicking Best Practices here.

17. Can I use the same color marking paint as the operator did to maintain the facility locates?

Painting over the original locate markings provided by the operator is not recommended. Doing so may affect the responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the markings in the event of any damage to the buried facility(s). Excavators are required to maintain the locate marks so they remain effective for the entire excavation project. (NAC 455.135) Marks can be maintained by using flags or feathers, or with offset stakes that describe the actual location of a buried facility.

18. What do I do if my excavation is occurring near an existing buried facility?

If a proposed excavation is going to occur within the approximate location of a buried facility, the excavator is required to determine the exact location of that buried facility by excavating with hand tools before using any mechanical equipment. (NRS 455.137) Approximate location is defined as “… a strip of land not more than 24 inches on either side of the exterior surface of a subsurface installation”. (NRS 455.082) When directional boring, you still must use hand tools to determine the exact location of the buried facility at the point where the bore will be crossing the facility, or at each location where the bore will be entering the 24 inch approximate location zone.

19. What do I do if an operator does not mark within the two working days?

When you call the USA North or the One Call Center for locates, the USA North CSR will offer to read you the names of all member operators that will receive notice of your proposed excavation. It is important for you to note which member operators will be receiving the USA North location request ticket, so you can call directly any operators that are not on the USAN distribution list. Before beginning your excavation, if you notice in the field that an operator has not marked their facilities or provided you with information that their facilities are not within the excavation area, you can call USA North and ask to have the locate request re-sent to the specific operator that has not yet marked. (NAC 455.145) You can also call the operator directly. Per the Nevada excavation laws, all operators are required to be members of the association of operators (USA North). (NRS 455.137)

20. What do I do if I dig into something?

If you cause or observe any damage, including a scratch, kink, stretch mark or any other unusual condition to a buried facility during an excavation or demolition, you must cease work, contact the operator, and keep the area open around the damaged facility until the operator can inspect and repair the damage if necessary. (NRS 455.140) (NAC 455.160) Even the slightest scratch has the potential for causing a future disaster, so it is imperative you call the operator and inform them of the damage. If the damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic or corrosive gas or liquid, you must promptly call the appropriate authorities by calling the 911 emergency telephone number as well as the operator of the facility.

21. What is the difference between the One Call Center USA North and the locating company?

USA North is an information gathering service that identifies and notifies operators with buried facilities in the proximity of your excavation area. Operators are defined as, “… any person who owns, operates or maintains a subsurface installation.” (NRS 455.096) An operator may use their own employees to perform locates, or they may hire a private company to perform locates. The locating company, whether the operator themselves or their locating contractor will mark the buried facilities in the field.

22. The PUCN enforcement agent just wrote me a citation. Can they do that?

The Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN) has the authority to enforce the excavation laws in the state of Nevada NRS 455.080 to 455.180 inclusive. The Regulatory Operations Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, the Attorney General, an operator, a person conducting an excavation or demolition, or the district attorney of a county or the city attorney of a city in which there is an excavation which they believe may cause death, serious physical harm or serious property damage may file a complaint in the district court for the county seeking to enjoin the practice of an operator or the person responsible for the excavation. (NRS 455.160) The court may issue a temporary restraining order before holding a hearing, and the PUCN may impose penalties or fines.

23. How are penalties or fines imposed? If there is a fine assessed against me, what happens to the money collected?

Penalties or fines are imposed through a process administered by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN). (NRS 703.025) Any person who willfully or repeatedly violates the excavation laws in the state of Nevada, NRS 455.080 to 455.180 inclusive, is liable for a civil penalty: 1) not to exceed $1,000/per day for each violation and 2) not to exceed $100,000 for any related series of violations within a calendar year. Any person who negligently violates the excavation laws in the state of Nevada is liable for a civil penalty: 1) not to exceed $200/per day for each violation, and 2) not to exceed $1,000 for any related series of violations within a calendar year. Fines collected go to the General Fund of the state of Nevada. (NRS 455.170)

24. What is a short notice locate and what are my options as an operator?

A short notice locate informs the operator that an excavator is requesting line locations be performed in less than the two working days required by law. If an excavator requests a “short notice” request, the USA North will inform the caller “because you have given Short Notice, there may be a delay in our member’s response to mark their facilities. If you excavate and damage facilities, then you may be liable for those damages. Would you like to change your Begin Time to a legal notice?”; however, if you say again that you won’t provide a legal notice then USA North will forward the request to their member operators.

25. What is considered to be a reasonable time for responding to emergency locate requests?

There is no response time defined by Nevada law; however, most operators try and respond in a timely manner to actual emergency locate requests (hazardous conditions).

26. Who is responsible for maintaining facility locate marks, and how long must they be maintained?

Excavators are required to maintain the locate marks for the entire excavation project. (NAC 455.135) Prudent excavators will determine the extent of a project that they wish to have marked at one time. The Nevada excavation laws allow for extensions of tickets and remark requests. (NRS 455.110) (NAC 455.165) Once the marks are placed, the excavator must maintain the original marks. Because locate marks can be destroyed the excavator should make every effort to maintain the operators’ markings, if the excavator feels that addition marks are necessary because of their inability to maintain the operators marks call USA North and request the operator (s) to call you to discuss providing offsets, flags, stakes or whiskers. This will help prevent excavators from making repeated or unnecessary re-mark calls to the operator.

27. Is the operator’s identifier (name, abbreviation, or initials) necessary when marking facilities in the field?

Although the color code system denotes the type of buried facility in the area, many times there are several companies in the same area that have the same type of facility. The operator’s identifier (name, abbreviation, or initials) is necessary to confirm that all facilities have been located. For example, AT&T and Verizon could have fiber optic throughout the city. If one of them marks “NoTel” at a proposed excavation area, the excavator will think they are free to dig. However, if AT&T marks, “No AT&T”, the excavator knows to give Verizon time to locate their facility(s). If there are two gas companies in the area, providing “No Gas” without the operator’s identifier could lead to a deadly disaster.

28. As an operator, do I have to belong to the One Call Center or USAN?

Any person who owns, operates or maintains underground facilities must join the association of operators or the One-Call Center for the state of Nevada. (NRS 455.120) Failing to join the association could subject you to civil penalties. The association of operators in Nevada is called USA North. Contact USA North at 1-925-798-9504 ext 0 to request membership information or go on line to their website and summit your request.

29. As a homeowner, do I have to call for locate request ticket?

Excavation means the movement or removal of earth, rock or other material in or on the ground by use of mechanical equipment or by the placement and discharge of explosives. So any time you use mechanical equipment for these reasons you are required to call for a locate request ticket. You are not required to call for a locate request ticket when you are digging with hand tools. However, calling 811 is a free call and it may save you money or protect you from injury. Remember if you don’t call when you are hand digging and you damage an operator’s facility you may be liable for that damage. So why take the change make the call and provide a minimum of a two working day notice before you excavate.

30. Does road maintenance require locates?

Any movement or removal of earth, rock or other material in or on the ground by use of mechanical equipment or by the discharge of explosives requires locates. This includes augering, backfilling, digging, ditching, drilling, grading, plowing-in, ripping, scraping, trenching and tunneling. (NRS 455.092)