Common Ground Alliance Works To Prevent Damage

by Mike Larson | September 28, 2010

If you’re interested in preventing damage to underground utilities, you should check out the Common Ground Alliance for Damage Prevention.

In mid-August, I sat in on a quarterly meeting of the Common Ground Alliance Wisconsin Regional Partnership.

This meeting was held at the offices of the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association (WUCA), but each meeting is hosted by a different member.

Common Ground Alliance is a group of safety-minded representatives from utility owners, contractors, consulting engineers, Diggers Hotline, and others who are working together to address issues and set up universally agreed-upon systems and procedures that help prevent damage to underground utilities.

Its central concept is that everyone involved with underground utilities shares the responsibility for preventing damage to them.

The southeastern Wisconsin group is part of the nationwide Common Ground Alliance organization, which includes groups all across the country.

In fact, the leader of the national organization “sat in” by phone on the Wisconsin group’s meeting to answer questions and update its members about the organization’s national activities.

The national Common Ground Alliance website says it is a member-driven association dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage-prevention practices.

Its efforts are geared toward reducing damages to all underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders.

In promoting a spirit of shared responsibility, the CGA says it welcomes all stakeholders who would like to be a part of the identification and promotion of best practices that lead to a reduction in damage.

Examples of stakeholder groups: excavators, locators, road builders, electric, telecommunications, oil, gas, railroad, water, one-call, public works, equipment manufacturing, state regulators, insurance, emergency services, and engineering/design.

The regional meeting I attended discussed topics like new code requirements for using tracer wire with buried utilities and how it will affect the way work is done or any issues with its application in actual use.

The group also talked about selected problems, incidents or close calls, discussing why they happened and how procedures might be changed so others can avoid them.

The atmosphere is definitely one of cooperation and interest in the common good of everyone affected by underground utilities.

It is a group of good people from good companies doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

And doing the right thing also makes good business sense. An ounce of prevention is worth tens of thousands of dollars – or more – of cure.

Current co-chairman of the Wisconsin group, Darren Muljo of Musson Brothers, points out that others are welcome to join the voluntary organization, or could start other local Common Ground groups to address similar issues in their other areas around the state.

With the proliferation of utilities going underground and the number of abandoned utilities still buried from years ago, this seems like an outstanding opportunity to solve problems before they happen.

Anyone interested in learning more about Common Ground Alliance or checking on the resources it provides can visit the national organization’s website:, or call Darren Muljo at 414-303-2702.

Western Builder Project Of The Year Competition

The day this column will appear in Western Builder Magazine, September 15, is the deadline for third-quarter entries for Western Builder’s Project of the Year contest.

The contest is sponsored by Case Construction Equipment, and the grand prize includes a $5,000 gift card for use at a Case dealer, as well as being featured in a story in Western Builder, and one-year subscriptions to the online and to Western Builder Magazine.

If you’ve missed the third-quarter deadline but have a great project in which you’ve overcome some interesting challenges, you still have another shot at entering.

The deadline for fourth-quarter entries is November 10.

Entry forms are in Western Builder.

They are also available online at Just go to and type “western builder project of the year” into the search box at the upper left corner of the screen. That will take you to a story about the contest, and in the story is the link to the forms.

We’re eager to hear about your successes.