backhoe digging irrigation canal on farm
A backhoe digging an irrigation canal (Photo by YuRi Photolife /

Tony Marino
Executive Officer, California Dig Safe Board

Excavation work, which includes agricultural activities, has required a “call before you dig” ticket since the 1980s. Following a fatal gas explosion in 2015 caused by deep ripping over a transmission pipeline in Bakersfield, CA, lawmakers created a one-year Area of Continual Excavation (ACE) ticket available to farmers and certain flood control operators. The goal was to create a safe and less burdensome option to comply with the “call before you dig” law than the normal ticket process. This process became available July 1, 2020.

Kern County Farm Bureau President, John Moore III stated: “This was a hard-fought negotiation between the Kern County Farm Bureau and PG&E for the opportunity to establish a continual excavation permit. As a result, the agricultural industry now has the ability to apply for the one-year Area of Continual Excavation (ACE) ticket, which significantly simplifies surface activities for our member-operators.”

The “Call Before You Dig” Process

Whether you use the new “ACE” ticket or the traditional ticket, there are a few steps to follow. 

Step 1: Request a Ticket

Call “811” or use an online portal to contact the “one-call” center and request a ticket.

Online: use (Northern California) or (Southern California)

Request either a standard 28-day ticket, or a year-long “ACE” ticket:

Year-long ACE ticket:

Can be requested any time of year that is convenient for the farmer or flood control agency, and is valid for one year from date of issuance

Must be renewed within one year if work continues

Traditional 28-Day Ticket

Must be requested at least 2 days prior to excavation, not including the day of the request

Must be renewed within 28 days if work continues.

Step 2: Delineate Boundaries of Work
Area in White

Delineate the area IN WHITE using methods such as paint, flags, flour, white buckets, or sand bags.

Step 3: Wait Two Days for Facility Owners to Contact You and Mark the Area

It’s the hardest part!

Step 4a: High Priority Pipeline?
Have an Onsite Meeting

The facility owner will contact you if there is a “high priority” facility—usually a gas transmission or petroleum pipeline—within 10 feet of the work area.

For an onsite meeting, have information available about the size, location of facility if known, type of work to be done, and workers authorized to perform work (including any subcontractors).

Step 4b: No High Priority Pipeline?
Request a Meeting, or Start Work!

If the facilities near the work area are not “high priority,” either you or the facility owner may initiate contact to discuss how best to stay safe around the line.

Features of ACE Tickets Over Traditional “Call Before You Dig” Tickets

ACE tickets will have several advantages over the traditional “call before you dig” ticket

Good for one year instead of 28 days

Good for you AND your subcontractors

If there is a “high priority” facility, the facility owner must send someone to the onsite meeting with knowledge of the location of the facility, such as a superintendent, supervisor, or engineer.

If you and the facility owner disagree about the location of a “high priority” facility—such as its depth—the facility owner must either provide documentation indicating the facility location or expose the line (you must, of course, have a valid basis for your understanding of the facility location).

New Responsibilities of ACE Ticket Holders

The benefits of ACE tickets also come with new responsibilities. They must be willing to have an onsite meeting with a facility operator if they request one. If there is a “high priority” facility, you must be able to describe all your farming activities during the duration of the ticket during the onsite meeting If there is a “high priority” facility, you, along with the facility owner, must complete and sign the ACE Agreement Form. And if there is a “high priority” facility, you must inform everyone working the area, including subcontractors, of the terms of the ACE Agreement Form.

More Information

More information about the “Call Before You Dig” process in general:


Tony Marino
Executive Officer,
California Dig Safe Board

Brittny Branaman
Policy & Budget Manager,
California Dig Safe Board

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