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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 20. Public Utilities And Telecommunications
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission
Chapter 309. Rules for Enforcement of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

20VAC5-309-150. Requirement for trenchless excavation.

A. Any person conducting trenchless excavation shall take all reasonable steps necessary to protect and support underground utility lines. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, these steps shall include the following:

1. The excavator shall verify that all utility lines in the area are marked by reviewing the positive response system and comparing the positive responses, as defined in § 56-265.15 of the Code of Virginia, to the marks on site;

2. The excavator shall ensure that bore equipment stakes are installed at a safe distance from marked utility lines;

3. When grounding rods are used, the excavator shall ensure that they are installed at a safe distance (at least 24 inches plus the width of the utility line, if known) away from the marked or staked location of utility lines;

4. The excavator shall ensure sufficient clearance is maintained between the bore path and any underground utility lines during pullback;

5. The excavator shall give special consideration to water and sewer systems within the area that cannot be located accurately;

6. Unless prohibited by other laws, ordinances, regulations, or rules of governmental and regulatory authorities having jurisdiction, the excavator shall expose all utility lines that will be in the bore path by hand digging to establish the underground utility line's location prior to commencing bore. For a parallel type bore, unless prohibited by other laws, ordinances, regulations, or rules of governmental and regulatory authorities having jurisdiction, the excavator shall expose the utility line by hand digging at reasonable distances along the bore path;

7. The excavator shall ensure the drill head locating device is functioning properly and within its specification prior to commencing the bore;

8. The excavator shall visually check the drill head as it passes through potholes, entrances, and exit pits; and

9. If the depth indicated by the locating device is lower than the bottom of the pothole or pit, the excavator shall cease boring until the hole or pit can be hand excavated further to maintain a visual inspection of the drill head.

B. Notwithstanding the requirements of subdivision A 6 of this section, any person conducting trenchless excavation crossing any gravity fed sewer main or combination storm/sanitary sewer system utility lines need not expose such utility lines by hand digging if, in addition to meeting the other applicable requirements set forth in subsection A of this section, the following steps are taken:

1. Prior to commencing a trenchless excavation project, the excavator shall receive documentation from the utility line operator (such as, but not limited to, documentation through the permitting process) documenting that the operator has been notified of the proposed trenchless excavation and that trenchless excavation will be used to cross its underground utility line. The scope of a trenchless excavation project shall not exceed the scope of a single notice of excavation;

2. Prior to commencing the boring process, the excavator shall determine (i) the depth of the utility line through appropriate locating technology and (ii) the diameter and condition of the utility line using a sewer system camera with video recording capability;

3. The excavator shall ensure that a clearance of at least three feet is maintained between the bore path and the utility line;

4. After the trenchless excavation project has been completed, the excavator or a qualified contractor shall use a closed circuit sewer system video camera to determine the condition of the utility line and ensure that no cross bore or other damage has occurred;

5. The excavator or qualified contractor shall immediately notify the utility line operator of any damage found; and

6. After the bore has been completed, the excavator or qualified contractor shall make all video documentation available to the utility line operator and the division upon request. Such video documentation shall be maintained and made available for 12 months from the time of the notice of excavation.

C. The provisions of subsection B of this section shall apply only to gravity fed sewer mains or combination storm/sanitary systems that are considered "utility lines" as that term is defined in § 56-265.15 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.30 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2001; amended, Volume 34, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2018; Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. January 1, 2022; Volume 40, Issue 16, eff. April 1, 2024.

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