The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) has released it’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report for year 2016. The report covers damages to underground utilities and structures, and the numbers are not good.

The CGA finds that damages to underground utilities has increased, with a total of 379,000 reported utility damages in 2016. This is a 20% rise in damage occurrence over 2015’s numbers. Simultaneously, the number of damages that were the result of “Notification Not Made,” meaning the excavating company did not Call 811, have decreased from 57% in 2004 to a record low of just 16% in 2016. What does this mean? Damages are on the rise even though excavators are improving with excavation notifications. On average, there is a utility damage on 1.76 tickets per 1000 dig tickets.

For the first time, CGA has reported cost estimates for damages to underground utilities. The reported estimated cost of utility damages in the USA in 2016 is $1.5 Billion. The CGA claims that this number is based on many variables and is a conservative number. Moreover, this total does not include costs associated with equipment damages, downtime, property damage, evacuations, closures, lawsuits, injury, or death.

The report contains other types of useful data, such as the root cause of utility damages. The root cause is broken up into 5 different categories:

  • Excavation Practices not Sufficient
  • Locating Practices not Sufficient
  • Notification Not Made
  • Notification Practices not Sufficient
  • Miscellaneous Root Cause

The most damaged utility in 2016 was Telecommunications, which includes damages to telephone, cable TV, and fiber optic cables. Natural Gas was the second most damaged utility according to national statistics. Natural Gas was the most damaged utility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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