Ground Disturbance

A ground disturbance is any work, operation, or activity that results in a disturbance of the earth, or that results in a reduction of the initial installation cover over a buried facility. A ground disturbance can include digging, trenching, tunneling, concrete cutting, and boring.

Ground disturbances have the potential to have major effects on operations and the safety of the campus. We require that anyone disturbing the ground more than 16 inches below grade to get a ground disturbance permits. Buried under the grounds around the SMU campus, are a variety of electrical, water, sewage, gas, and communication utilities. Before starting underground work, these utility lines need to be marked or flagged.

Before digging, Texas law requires anyone to notify 811. Texas 811 gives utilities two business days to locate and mark lines. Before getting a ground disturbance permit, an 811 reference number is required.

Notifying 811 does not work for all utilities on campus as SMU owns the majority of the underground utilities and, does not perform line locates in house. Unless a location has been deemed safe for disturbance, a third party may need to be hired for locates.

Stakes longer than 16” used to secure tents or other outdoor event activities on SMU property are allowed to be exempt from the Ground Disturbance Permit if they are operating in the designated safe dig areas. Safe dig areas are mapped out in the Office of Facilities.

Ground Disturbance Permits can be filled out online at Ground Disturbance permit or in person.

Ground Disturbance Program

Marking Color Code


underneath streets

Digging in the Tolerance Zone