CGA Report Reveals Utility Damages Cost U.S. $30 Billion in 2019

(UC) — The 2019 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report compiled by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) revealed that excavation-related damages to utilities cost the U.S. approximately $30 billion last year. 

The Report analyzed all 2019 data submitted voluntarily by facility operators, utility locating companies, one call centers, contractors, regulators and others from the U.S. and Canada using an in-depth statistical modeling process.

The results of this analysis found that an estimated 532,000 excavation-related damages to underground facilities occurred in the U.S. in 2019, a 4.5% increase compared to the 2018 estimate of 509,000 damages.

The Report also examined the direct and indirect costs of damaging underground infrastructure and estimated that the societal costs totaled approximately $30 billion in the U.S. in 2019 alone.

According to CGA DIRT data, estimated annual damages have trended upward since 2015, but largely kept pace with increasing construction activity. The 2019 data shows that for the first time, each dollar of construction spending is resulting in more transmissions from one call centers than in years prior, a possible indicator that the volume of locate requests is putting pressure on the damage prevention process, impacting the ability of locators to complete accurate and timely locates.

The 2019 DIRT Report analyzes the root causes of damages to buried infrastructure to help determine at which step in the safe excavation process incidents occur.

While failure to notify the one call center (811) is the single largest individual root cause, contributing to 29% of damages, other root cause groupings are converging to become roughly equal: excavating issues made up 29% of damage root causes, locating issues were responsible for 28% of damages, and the invalid use of locate requests drove 14% of damages in 2019.

The complete DIRT Annual Report for 2019 is available for download at

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