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There's a new place where you can complain about underground digging

In 2019, complaints made to the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission will now become public record.

A new commission will help noisy neighbors complain when they're suspicious of the person next door digging where they're not supposed to be digging.

Actually, the new Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission does more than that. It does not, however, predict where troublesome utility lines may exist underground.

Starting in the new year, this new safety commission will hear complaints about underground digging.

"A complaint is a complaint regarding something happening in the field, such as a line strike or a near miss," said Division of Oil and Public Safety Manager Greg Johnson. "A residential complaint could involve one neighbor looking at another neighbor excavating in his yard, and saying, 'I don't see any markings for utilities in the yard, so I'm assuming he didn't call in to get the utilities marked. I'm complaining about that. He violated the law.'"

Right now, if you want to complain about a digging near-miss or a busted line, you pretty much need to go to court.

"There is no place for a complaint to go necessarily," Johnson said.

Starting this past August, a complaint form went live, and in 2019, the commission will hold hearings on those complaints four times a year.

Depending on if the commission determines that the violation was "minor," "moderate," or "major," an individual or company could be fined from $250, up to $75,000 for four major violations in a one-year period.

"(It's) an avenue for those complaints instead of going to the courts," Johnson said. 

But what if you wanted to know which companies have had violations in the past?

"Colorado 811 does have statistics of damages," Johnson said.

Colorado 811 currently tracks damage to utility lines. However, Colorado 811 is funded by utility companies and their records are not bound by the Colorado Open Records Act, so unless the person you hire fesses up to having a violation, or you find a poor review online, you won't know.

Moving forward in 2019, complaints made to the commission would be a public record.