2019 Northern Midwest UG Meeting: A Recap

Banner image of the Nothern Midwest Users' Group Meeting

North Dakota One Call (NDOC) was pleased to attend the Northern Midwest Users’ Group Meeting (NMUG) in Bloomington, MN on January 24-25, 2019. One Call Concepts, Inc. (OCC) hosted the event, which was customized for three notification centers- NDOC, Gopher State One Call (GSOC), and Iowa One Call (IOC). The NMUG brings together notification center staff and facility operators from states with similar geographies, seasons, shared contractors, and initiatives and provides them with a forum to network with their peers, while learning about the OCC products and services available to them.

The meeting was held over two days at the Bloomington Sheraton Hotel before the upcoming busy digging season. The content of the scheduled presentations, combined with the insights shared during the open roundtable discussions, provided attendees a regional view of damage prevention strategies and suggested opportunities for new partnerships with other industry peers. Participants shared their successes, challenges, and new ideas about improving damage prevention.

Throughout the day and a half of the meeting, presenters led discussions on a variety of topics, including:

Group image with Ryan Schmaltz

OCC Catalog of Products/Services

  • Mobile One Call App
  • Augmented Reality
  • ForeSite
  • Legislative Enforcement
  • Public Relations and Damage Prevention Outreach/Education
  • User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) Redesign
  • NULCA- National Utility Locating Contractors Association Update
  • Wrap-Up Roundtable Discussions

At the networking event on the evening of January 24, the Peterson Farm Brothers gave an educational presentation about farming/ the 811 message and performed some of their popular parodies such as “I’m Farming and I Grow It” and “Chore”, as well as their original 811 song “Call Before Ya Dig”. They did a fantastic job!

Image of the Peterson Farm Brothers

To learn more about the Peterson Farm Brothers, click here.

In a post-event survey, meeting attendees rated the venue, session content, and other factors. Overall, survey participants had positive feedback and noted that they would recommend attending this event to a colleague/co-worker. It’s easy to see that the Northern Midwest Users’ Group gives everyone who attends a forum to connect and collaborate on the mutual goal of damage prevention!

NDOC Spotlight: Ryan Schmaltz

Image of Ryan Schmaltz

Ryan Schmaltz is the One Call Concepts, Inc. (OCC) Director of Public Relations and Education for North Dakota One Call (NDOC). He has a variety of responsibilities, which is one of his favorite aspects of his position. One week, Ryan might be staffing a booth at an educational farm show to help promote damage prevention awareness to the farming community. The following week, he could be giving a presentation to contractors and/or utilities about changes in the ND one call system. Ryan’s goal at these events is always the same: To promote and bring awareness to the 811 system throughout ND. He accomplishes this goal by giving presentations, attending trade shows, engaging in media advertising, coordinating sport sponsorships, etc.

Ryan attended college at the University of North Dakota and earned a degree in Industrial Technology. A couple years after school, he took a position with Nodak Electric Cooperative in Grand Forks as an Operations Technician, where he worked with outage management. He later moved to Nodak’s Energy Services Department and worked with load management and energy efficiency. While at Nodak, Ryan became familiar with North Dakota’s underground damage prevention law and filing locate requests. He estimates to have filed more than 2,000 locate requests with NDOC during his five and a half years with Nodak. OCC was and currently is NDOC’s notification service provider. In September 2013, the OCC public relations position for NDOC opened up, and the rest is history. 

A great resource for ND one call information is the NDOC Handbook. Ryan welcomes stakeholders to reach out to him with any questions that cannot be answered in the NDOC Handbook. NDOC’s top priority is for stakeholders to understand the law and to create safe and accurate locate tickets each and every time.

NDOC values Ryan as an asset who helps to promote the important 811 message, while being a point of contact for stakeholders! Sending an email is the best way to reach him, especially if he is traveling on the road with the NDOC truck. He does his best to respond/return calls in a timely manner. Feel free to contact him by emailing ryans@occinc.com or calling 701-751-1019 (office) or 701-610-1057 (cell).

ITIC Lite: Designed for Homeowners

Thinking of projects such as installing a fire pit for the cold months or a new fence to keep out pesky animals in time for spring? Before you begin your work, remember to contact North Dakota One Call (NDOC) 48 hours in advance, excluding weekends and holidays, to get underground facilities marked in the proposed digging area.

Contacting NDOC is as simple as making a phone call or filing an online notification ticket with our ITIC Lite tool. We understand that life gets busy, so we have streamlined the process for you! ITIC Lite is a simplified ticketing system that allows homeowners or occasional excavators to quickly and efficiently file a notification ticket. NDOC provides this free and easy-to-use service to help you dig safely.

Follow these simple steps to get utilities marked before digging:

1. Help locators see exactly where your work will take place by identifying the dig site with white flags or paint. You may be wondering, “How do I white line when it snows?” An excavator can use colored paint, flags, or stakes in different colors not specified in the APWA Color Code as an alternative to pre-marking with white. Remember to indicate the use of alternate colored markings on your locate request. Uploading an image, text, or shape (.shp) file when submitting an online ticket via ITIC is a digital method to identify the boundaries of the proposed work site.

2. Go to the ITIC Lite tool here.

3. Make sure you meet the requirements listed at the top of the page.  

4. Enter a valid email address.

5. NDOC will send you a verification email with a link to complete the process.

6. Once you click on the link, you will be directed to a locate request form that you will complete with your project details.

Information you will need:

  • First and last name
  • Alternate contact name
  • Phone number and alternate contact phone number
  • County
  • City
  • Zip code
  • Within city limits?
  • House number
  • Street name
  • An intersecting street near the excavation site. If the work is outside the city limits, you should provide the direction (N, S, E, or W) and distance (in feet or miles) to the site from the nearest named and posted intersection.
  • Description of where the work will take place on the property and driving directions from a major intersection
  • Type of work to be done (landscaping, gardening, planting a tree, etc.)
  • Max depth of the excavation in feet
  • White lining details
Screen grab image of the ITIC LITE system

7. Your ticket will then be sent to the call center for review. We may attempt to contact you if we need more information to process your ticket. Please call us as soon as practical should you receive a request.

8. NDOC will send you a confirmation email with your ticket number and the list of utility companies to be notified.

9. Keep this email for your records. Check the status of your ticket here to make sure all of the utilities have responded before you dig.

10. Once your excavation area has been marked, hand dig at least two feet (the tolerance zone) on both sides of the marked utility.

11. North Dakota law requires that operators register lines buried in the public right-of-way with NDOC, so privately owned lines will not be marked. Hot tubs, invisible dog fences, and sprinkler systems are some examples of private lines. You or the utility owner may have to contact a private locator to have these lines marked.

12. Happy safe digging!

Thanks for contacting NDOC to help you dig safely. Feel free to contact us with any questions, suggestions, and input. Our help desk phone number is (563) 884-7762.  

Tolerance Zone

After filing a locate request with North Dakota One Call, make sure to wait at least 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, to get your underground utilities marked before you break ground. After the standard waiting period has passed, remember to check the status of your locate ticket by going to www.ndonecall.com and clicking on the black button named “Ticket Check.” If all affected facility operators have responded, what’s next? You should dig using hand tools, vacuum excavation, or a non-invasive excavation method within the “tolerance zone”, the 24” area on either side of an underground utility plus the width of the utility itself.

Because location markings are approximate, the exact position of buried lines may vary from the marks. That’s why excavators should maintain a minimum horizontal (side to side) clearance of 24 inches between an unexposed facility and the cutting edge or point of any power-operated excavating or earthmoving equipment. For example, if the markings indicate a 20” pipe is buried and the minimum clearance is 24” on both sides of the facility, the entire tolerance zone is 68” wide (24” + 20” + 24”).  See below for a visual example of the tolerance zone.

Image of the tolerance zone

Remember that the depth of an underground facility may vary due to installation practices, frost, erosion, and other factors. Any depth readings given by a locator, if given at all, are only estimates, and the excavator is still responsible to safely expose the facility without damage.

Careful digging within the tolerance zone is an important step in the damage prevention process. Protect yourself, loved ones, and the environment by always hand digging or practicing non-invasive excavation methods in the tolerance zone. By doing so, you will have peace of mind knowing that you’re helping to protect vital underground infrastructure!

Ticket Check vs. Search and Status

Image of Ticket Check
Image of Search and Status

Did you know that North Dakota One Call (NDOC) offers different tools for stakeholders to submit and view positive response information? Locators and member utilities have access to a positive response system called Ticket Check to communicate marking statuses (Clear/No Conflict, Marked, Not Complete/In Progress, etc.) to excavators in real time. Locators no longer have to call excavators or fax paperwork, since they can quickly post the status of their tickets with this user-friendly and efficient tool. Users can view and manage all or individual tickets, communicate with customers, create reports, and post ticket statuses in multiple ways. When locators submit positive response information in Ticket Check, it can be viewed via Search and Status. As of August 1, 2017, providing positive response information is mandatory for all facility operators.

Informational image of locator info within the search and status system

Excavators and homeowners have access to an easy-to-use online tool called Search & Status, and NDOC recommends that users review it prior to commencing any excavation in the field. Using Search & Status, stakeholders can quickly find ticket and positive response information. With a few clicks, users can search the history or status of a ticket. You can also find specific tickets by narrowing your search criteria.

Image of search and status interface

Users can access NDOC positive response information to make sure that all affected facility operators have responded to their ticket by going to www.ndonecall.com and clicking on the black “Ticket Check” button. Underground facility operators must respond to every ticket they receive from NDOC, even if there are no underground facilities in the excavation area. When you check the status of your ticket prior to digging, you will have the peace of mind knowing whether it is safe to break ground. Buried utilities are located everywhere and can be located near the surface. Don’t take your chances by not checking the status of your ticket.

Both Ticket Check and Search and Status work together to keep stakeholders updated and records synced. ​Feel free to contact us with any questions, suggestions, or input you may have!

NDOC Help Desk Phone Number: (563) 884-7762