Page 19 - Texas811 Magazine 2022 Issue 3
P. 19

excavator, one thing was certain. The 811 Centers across the country were consistently the best ally the excavators had. That the intent of the study was to focus on things that were beyond the control of the 811 Centers.
While there are clearly differences
of opinions as to the value of the
report, there is no denying that
folks are talking about the findings
and recommendations. Feedback
was received from some individual stakeholders in states that will then be factored in the final report as an update. Those updates should be completed by the time you receive the next issue. In the meantime, look over this national report, then compare it with your individual state report and get involved in the process.
The Report
A handful of states – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia – account for more than 20 percent of the national waste, a combined $13 billion, because of 811 policies that lack teeth and, in some cases, do not require mandatory reporting of damage to utility lines. This waste is on top of the $30 billion in annual damages to underground utilities, estimated by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) in 2019.
This 2021 study was commissioned
by the Infrastructure Protection Coalition (IPC), a group of associations representing broadband, electric, natural gas, pipelines, transportation, sewer, and water industries who design, construct, maintain or locate these underground systems, with both union and non-union workforces. These are regular users and stakeholders of the 811 system who want to see them run safely and efficiently.
The reasons for the waste and cost overruns found in this study include: utilities and third-party locators needlessly sent to locate lines for construction projects that then do
not happen; poor instructions given
to locators, causing wasted time or additional work; locate marks destroyed by construction and then requiring reinstallation and contractor wait time when location efforts exceed the legal notice period. These costs amount
to an additional $61 billion in waste, inefficiency, and excess cost that is
imbedded in the system and largely invisible. It sits on top of the $30 billion in annual and out-of-pocket cost to the system calculated in 2019 by Common Ground Alliance (CGA).
Regardless from whom or where these costs originate, they migrate over a
3- to 5-year timeline toward the most professional excavators and locators
and by default to their utility customers, who are primarily the highly regulated electric and gas utilities, and ultimately their rate payers.
This can serve
as a guide to
legislators, and
stakeholders as
they explore the
development and
of an 811 system
that is safe and
Once known and visible, these costs can be eliminated and mitigated. The 13 national recommendations proposed for selected implementation on a state-by- state basis can be implemented for an approximate $1.2 billion cost nationwide and will eliminate $30 billion in damage and waste over a 3- to 5-year timeline. The recommendation value outweighs the cost by a factor of 33x over the 3- to 5-year implementation timeline. These savings represent both damage frequency and waste embedded in the system. Severe damage reduction
and public safety or societal benefits are not calculated and are on top of these figures.
This study comes at a critical time
for the nation’s infrastructure. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has announced plans to underground 10,000 miles
of power lines. Dominion Energy’s system reliability improvement
efforts undergrounded 1,500 miles of electric lines with thousands of miles remaining. Lead pipe replacement for U.S. water systems is just beginning. Broadband systems are placing tens of thousands of miles of high-speed fiber optic cable underground for improved Internet access. And the passage of the national infrastructure bill will result in tens of thousands of miles of highway, bridge, road, broadband, and water
& sewer infrastructure construction,
all of which will be near existing underground utilities.
Can a trillion dollars in excavation be completed without damaging existing infrastructure and exposing the public to severe safety concerns?
The Infrastructure Protection Coalition believes it is possible to dramatically improve the system with a combination of law, regulation, practice, and
process changes mirroring what the best-performing states are already accomplishing. That would:
• Eliminate all of the damages associated with legal excavation;
• Reduce public exposure to severe safety concerns; and
• Return to utility ratepayers, through lower rates, a significant portion of the $61 billion in waste, inefficiency, and excess cost that is within the system and largely invisible.
A separate state-specific report was crafted for every state, Washington, D.C., and the city of Chicago. The national and state-specific reports provide an exhaustive, independent review of each of the state’s systems
to highlight specific areas where each state should focus for improvement. This can serve as a guide to regulators, legislators, and stakeholders as
they explore the development and implementation of an 811 system that is safe and efficient.
2022, Issue 3 Texas811 • 17

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