Construction Business Excavations and Underground Utilities’ Inefficiencies

Construction Business Excavations

In 2005, the Call Before You Dig awareness campaign officially adopted 811 as the universal number for consumers to call to request information about utility lines on properties. Construction business owners are diligent about this, but the system’s failures have come home to roost.

There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the U.S., which means there’s over a football field’s length of line per person.Pipesy.com

The Infrastructure Protection Coalition completed a study to determine issues and solutions to revamping underground utility systems. Clearly, the marking and reporting system isn’t working as-is.

The inefficiency and waste cost utilities customers and construction business owners a whopping $61 billion per year. This is in addition to the $30 billion annual out-of-pocket costs directly due to underground utilities’ damages. An underground utility line is damaged every six minutes nationwide.

“Surprise” is not a strong enough word.“Shock” is the appropriate word.
Mark Bridges, Continuum Capital

  • In addition to the monetary loss, the lack of efficiency in underground utility systems poses health and safety threats.
  • The location markers identification system is a big factor in mistakes made during underground excavations. Markers were often lost or destroyed.
  • Utilities’ personnel were frequently given poor instructions for projects that might or might not happen.

Over a 3-5 year timeframe, the solutions would cost $1.2 billion and save about $30 billion:

  • A third-party enforcement board will deal with issues.
  • All asset owners, operators, and other personnel must enroll in the 811 system with no exemptions.
  • All parties (asset owners, excavators, locators) will manage similar risks so the penalty structure is more balanced.
  • Dig laws revised so all underground utility damages must be reported.

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