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Washington, D.C. District Law and Regulators

To view and/or print a copy of District Of Columbia Code Title 34 "Public Utilities"; Subtitle 7: Chapter 27, Underground Facilities Protection, click here.

Note that it is an excerpt from the Maryland/DC Excavator's Manual. To view and/or print the entire Excavator's Manual, click here.

District of Columbia Department of Transportation
 
In the District, excavation in public space is monitored and enforced through the District of Columbia Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) public space permitting process. Public space is defined in D.C. Official Code § 10-1101.01(6) as “all the publicly owned property between the property lines on a street, as such property lines are shown on the records of the District, and includes any roadway, tree space, sidewalk, or parking between such property lines.” 

Under DC Official Code § 9-431.01, District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Title 24 Chapter 34, and the District Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Highways and Structures, any person performing excavation work in public space must obtain a public space permit from DDOT and comply with all legal requirements for safe excavation, including the requirement to call Miss Utility prior to excavation and comply with all safe digging requirements.  For details, see D.C. Official Code § 9-431.01; § 10-1101.01; DCMR § 24-3403; and DDOT Standard Specifications § 107.16.

District regulations authorize DDOT to issue Stop Work Orders to dangerous and unsafe excavation sites, to suspend all active permits, and to deny the issuance or renewal of permits to any person to whom a Notice of Violation has been issued and the applicant has not abated, in full, the nuisance for which the Notice of Violation was issued.  For details, see DCMR § 24-3405.

DDOT has a requirement that permit holders comply with all District laws and regulations, including the Underground Facilities Protection Law (DC Official Code Title 34, Subtitle VII, Chapter 27).  Having a Miss Utility ticket is an explicit condition for obtaining a permit to excavate in the District.
 
To report a public space concern or suspected violation, please call 202-645-7050.
 
Helpful Links:
DDOT website: http://ddot.dc.gov/
DC Code: https://beta.code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/
DC Municipal Regulations: http://dcregs.dc.gov/

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs performs random, unscheduled inspections of excavation work performed on private property. Failure to follow the steps listed below can result in Class III to Class I civil penalties ranging from $500 to $2000 per violation pursuant to 12 DCMR §§ 115 and 105.1, along with issuance of Stop Work Order pursuant to 12 DCMR § 114.

Private properties may have lines and pipes running underground on the front, back or both sides of the property, depending on how the utilities and/or underground facilities have been installed and/or the geographical location of the excavation. As a homeowner or contractor working on private property, it is very important to know the required steps and laws governing excavation activities.

The following steps will help you to excavate or dig safely without violating the local laws:
1. Call Miss Utility at 811 or 1-800-257-7777 at least 48 Hours prior to excavation to obtain a ticket. Miss Utility will issue a ticket and site inspection will take place by an associated locator service for the purpose of marking the underground utility services.
2. Before calling Miss Utility, be ready to provide information, such as proposed work site, time of excavation, time to complete the job and type of work to be done.
3. Obtain the appropriate permits required to excavate from concerned agencies: the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, when excavating on private property; the District Department of Transportation when excavating on public space; and the Distrcit Department of Energy and Environment, if necessary.
To report illegal construction, call the Illegal Construction Unit, at (202) 442-STOP (7867) or call 311 during non-business hours.

Helpful Links:
DCRA webpage: http://dcra.dc.gov/
DC Municipal Regulations, See 12 DCMR §§ 115, 114 and 105.1: http://dcregs.dc.gov/

Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia

The Public Service Commission, through its Office of Compliance and Enforcement,  enforces compliance of the District’s gas operator, Washington Gas Light Company, with the federal damage prevention requirements codified in 49 C.F.R. Part 198, Subpart C - Adoption of One-Call Damage Prevention Program.  These requirements are related to the federal pipeline safety requirements adopted by the Commission in 15 DCMR, Chapter 23.

Pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 192.614, the operator of a buried pipeline must carry out a written program to prevent damage to that pipeline from excavation activities.  Among other things,  the program should provide for temporary marking of buried pipelines in the area of excavation activity before, as far as practical, the activity begins and provide for inspection of pipelines that an operator has reason to believe could be damaged by excavation activities.  The gas operator is also responsible for maintaining accurate records of its underground pipeline facilities.

As part of its damage prevention function, the Office of Compliance and Enforcement has authority to inspect construction sites, to initiate enforcement actions against Washington Gas Light Company for violations of all applicable damage prevention requirements, and to impose civil penalties.    In addition to penalties, the Office of Compliance and Enforcement has authority to issue Stop Work Orders, direct the pipeline operator to implement corrective actions and provide written confirmation of completion of these actions.  

To report a safety concern or suspected violation, please contact the Office of Compliance and Enforcement at 202-626-9190 (Udeozo Ogbue, Chief OCE) or 202-626-0201 (Donald Jackson, Compliance and Enforcement Officer), or via email at PSC-OCE@psc.dc.gov.

Helpful links:
DC PSC website, Pipeline Safety and Damage Prevention: http://dcpsc.org/Utility-Information/Natural-Gas/Pipeline-Safety-and-Damage-Prevention.aspx
15 DCMR, Chapter 23: http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/ChapterHome.aspx?ChapterNumber=15-23
Federal Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Regulations: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=1d49a3b137cb1b6fc45251074e634b44&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title49/49cfrv3_02.tpl

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