(ConstructionDrive) – Failures and inefficiencies in the country’s “811 Call Before You Dig” system are costing utility consumers $61 billion per year and increasing risk to public safety, according to a report released in November by the Infrastructure Protection Coalition (IPC).
The report found that expenses were accrued most often when locate marks were destroyed, leading to wasted time and additional work, and when utilities and third-party locators received poor instruction or were sent to do work for projects that didn’t happen.
The study looked at all 50 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago. According to the report, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia accounted for more than 20% of the waste, for a combined $13 billion. The $61 billion in waste, inefficiency and excess cost is embedded in the system and largely invisible, the report said. This sits on top of the $30 billion in annual out-of-pocket costs due to damage to underground utilities, calculated in 2019 by Common Ground Alliance.
The study put forward a variety of solutions, including:
• Mandating that all asset owners, operators and other personnel enroll in the 811 system
• Refine dig laws so that all damage to underground utilities must be reported
• Create a third-party enforcement board to deal with issues
• Balance the penalty structure so that all parties face a similar risk