Damage to underground utilities has increased over the past three years, according to Common Ground Alliance. Its analysis of data submitted to 811 call centers and entered into the Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) showed a 12.4% increase in damages per million dollars of construction and a 9.3% increase in damages per 1,000 811 calls over the 2020-2022 time period.
The analysis is included in CGA’s 2022 DIRT report.
Contractors were involved in more than half of the damage incidents, according to the report. Telecommunications and natural gas were the most damaged facilities, and telecommunications contributed to the most damages.
Excavation/construction was the top reporting source for underground damage, according to the report, which also noted that this was the first time it ranked at the top.
Utility damage caused by excavation
Root causes defined as excavation include:
- Digging prior to verifying marks by a test hole
- Failing to maintain clearance after verifying marks
- Faded or not maintained marks
- Failure to protect/shore/support facilities
- Improper backfilling practices
- Any other improper excavation process
The report suggests that increased infrastructure spending will put increased pressure on efforts to prevent damage to underground utilities. CGA notes that delays in locating underground utilities is preventing work from legally beginning. Data from seven states revealed that as often as 56% of the time, an excavator cannot legally start digging on the planned start date.
Source: Common Ground Alliance