Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 10.3. Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

§ 56-265.15. Definitions; calculation of time periods.

A. As used in this chapter:

"Abandoned" means no longer in service and physically disconnected from a portion of the underground utility line that is in use for storage or conveyance of service.

"Contract locator" means any person contracted by an operator specifically to determine the approximate horizontal location of the operator's utility lines that may exist within the area specified by a locate request.

"Damage" means any impact upon or removal of support from an underground facility as a result of excavation or demolition which according to the operating practices of the operator would necessitate the repair of such facility.

"Demolish" or "demolition" means 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 which could damage underground utility lines.

"Designer" means any licensed professional designated by the project owner who designs government projects, commercial projects, residential projects consisting of 25 or more units, or industrial projects, which projects require the approval of governmental or regulatory authorities having jurisdiction over the project area.

"Emergency" means a sudden or unexpected occurrence involving a clear and imminent danger, demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services.

"Excavate" or "excavation" means any operation in which earth, rock, or other material in the ground is moved, removed, or otherwise displaced by means of any tools, equipment, or explosives and includes, without limitation, grading, trenching, digging, ditching, dredging, drilling, augering, tunneling, scraping, cable or pipe plowing and driving, wrecking, razing, rendering, moving, or removing any structure or mass of material. "Excavate" or "excavation" does not include installation of a sign that consists of metal, plastic, or wooden poles placed in the ground by hand or by foot without the use of tools or equipment.

"Exigent circumstances" means circumstances outside of an operator's or contract locator's, as described in subsection D of § 56-265.19, control that necessarily prevent an operator or locator from completing the marking task, including a wrong address provided with the locate request; failure to provide a reasonably specific location of proposed excavation; inaccessibility of the excavation site due to physical barrier or risk of serious bodily injury; a locate request that cannot be carried out by a traditional locating method and requires assistance from the operator; catastrophic technological failure outside of the locator's, operator's, or notification center's control; or the area of excavation does not conform with the requirements of subsection F of § 56-265.17.

"Extraordinary circumstances" means floods, snow, ice storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

"Hand digging" means any excavation involving nonmechanized tools or equipment. Hand digging includes, but is not limited to, digging with shovels, picks, and manual post hole diggers, vacuum excavation or soft digging.

"Locate request" means the completed delivery of information to the notification center requesting markings for a specified area of excavation or demolition and receipt of the same by the notification center in accordance with this chapter.

"Notification center" means an organization whose membership is open to all operators of underground facilities located within the notification center's designated service area, which maintains a data base, provided by its member operators, that includes the geographic areas in which its member operators desire transmissions of notices of proposed excavation, and which has the capability to transmit, within one hour of receipt, notices of proposed excavation to member operators by electronic means.

"Notify," "notice" or "notification" means the completed delivery of information to the person to be notified, and the receipt of same by such person in accordance with this chapter. The delivery of information includes the use of any electronic or technological means of data transfer.

"Operator" means any person who owns, furnishes or transports materials or services by means of a utility line.

"Person" means any individual, operator, firm, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, municipality, or other political subdivision, governmental unit, department or agency, and includes any trustee, receiver, assignee, or personal representative thereof.

"Positive response" means a code or phrase posted by an operator or locator to the notification center detailing the marking status of a locate request.

"Positive response system" means the excavator-operator information exchange system that is required by subsection E of § 56-265.16:1 and provides the means for operators or their contract locators to respond to and report the marking status of a locate request.

"Private sewer lateral" means a privately owned, legally authorized utility line that transports wastewater from one or more buildings to a sewer system utility line owned by a sewer system operator.

"Private water lateral" means a privately owned, legally authorized utility line that supplies water from a water system utility line owned by a water system operator to one or more buildings or properties.

"Sewer system" means a system of utility lines used for conveying wastewater, and includes sewer system laterals but does not include private sewer laterals.

"Sewer system lateral" means a lateral utility line located in the public right-of-way or public sewer easement, owned by a sewer system operator, and used to transport wastewater to the operator's main sewer line.

"Sewer system operator" means an operator of a sewer system.

"Soft digging" means any excavation using tools or equipment that utilize air or water pressure as the direct means to break up soil or earth for removal by vacuum excavation.

"Utility line" means any item of public or private property which is buried or placed below ground or submerged for use in connection with the storage or conveyance of water, sewage, telecommunications, electric energy, cable television, oil, petroleum products, gas, or other substances, and includes pipes, sewers, combination storm/sanitary sewer systems, conduits, cables, valves, lines, wires, manholes, attachments, and those portions of poles below ground. The term "sewage" does not include any gravity storm drainage systems. Except for any publicly owned gravity sewer system within a county which has adopted the urban county executive form of government, the term "utility line" does not include any gravity sewer system or any combination gravity storm/sanitary sewer system within any counties, cities, towns or political subdivisions constructed or replaced prior to January 1, 1995. No excavator shall be held liable for the cost to repair damage to any such systems constructed or replaced prior to January 1, 1995, unless such systems are located in accordance with § 56-265.19.

"Water system" means a system of utility lines used for supplying water, and does not include private water laterals.

"Water system operator" means an operator of a water system.

"Willful" means an act done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently.

"Working day" means every day, except Saturdays, Sundays, and legal state and national holidays.

B. Unless otherwise specified, all time periods used in this chapter shall be calculated from the time of the original locate request as provided in § 56-265.17. In addition, all time periods exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and legal state and national holidays.

1979, c. 291; 1980, cc. 696, 710; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841; 2010, cc. 205, 777, 832; 2023, cc. 299, 300.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.