Public Awareness – Fall 2018

Minnesota Celebrates 8/11 Day: CenterPoint Energy Hosts 5th Annual 811 5K Run/Walk in Minneapolis


CENTERPOINT ENERGY (CNP) hosted the annual 811 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, August 11, 2018 at Bde Maka Ska, formerly known as Lake Calhoun. CNP partnered with Twin Cities Firefighters to raise money for Operation Warm Coats for Kids, a non-profit that gives new, warm coats to children in need.

In addition to the 5K run/walk, the event featured a run for children, a demonstration safety fair, fire trucks, and other safety-themed games and activities. Hundreds of people from all around the Twin Cities Metro area came out to participate in the event. The 5K run/walk started at 8:11 a.m. on 8/11 to raise awareness of the 811 One Call service and the importance of calling 811 to reach Gopher State One Call (GSOC) two working days in advance of any digging project.

“75 percent of our gas leaks are a result of unsafe digging activities,” said CNP spokeswoman Becca Virden. “The demonstrations at the safety fair helped educate people on safe digging practices and encouraged them to inform their friends and neighbors on what to do in the event of a utility damage emergency. Our goal for this event was to create a domino effect that prevents damage to people and property though education.”

This year marked the fifth consecutive year that CNP has worked with GSOC, Xcel Energy and other utilities to organize the 811 5K Walk/Run. In its first year, all proceeds were donated to Kevin Grutzmacher, public relations & education coordinator for GSOC, Minnesota’s statewide One Call center, who was paralyzed in late 2012 after falling from a tree stand while deer hunting. Together, CNP, Rhino Markers/Infrastructure Resources, Minneapolis Fire Department and other Minnesota utility companies raised over $20,000 to help purchase an electric wheelchair for Grutzmacher and pay for some of his medical bills.

In the years after 2013, CNP partnered with Twin Cities Firefighters to raise money for Operation Warm Coats for Kids. In 2017, CenterPoint Energy and other utility companies donated more than $18,000 towards providing new winter coats for children in need in the Twin Cities.

“When temperatures go below freezing, a lot of times parents won’t send their kids to school because it is dangerous for them to be outside without a coat. When we provide those kids with warm winter coats, we’ve found that it increases attendance at schools in low-income areas,” said Virden.

Dozens of CenterPoint Energy and other utility employee volunteers worked together to organize this event. Local news anchors emceed the event and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey participated in the run/walk. This year, the 811 5k Run/Walk raised enough money to buy hundreds of new coats for Operation Warm Coats for Kids.

Aaron Cornelius is Public Relations Specialist with CenterPoint Energy. He can be reached at

Cross Bores: CGA Members Work Together to Measure and Address this Dangerous Type of Utility Damage

CROSS BORES, which occur when an existing underground facility is intersected by another, is a persistent issue in the damage prevention industry. A number of factors combine to make the issue particularly complex. Given the serious nature of the incidents they can lead to, Common Ground Alliance (CGA) members continue to work through the consensus- based process to address cross bores. Cross bores can be considered a two-pronged issue: 1) avoiding creation of new ones, and 2) avoiding incidents caused by the ones already in the ground.

CGA members are sharing their experiences with cross bore mitigation and collaborating on the ways the damage prevention industry as a whole can work to reduce the impact of this type of utility damage. In 2018, CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) is incorporating new questions designed to better measure instances of cross bores, our first Technology Report included a case study on possible technical solutions for cross bore identification, and our Best Practices committee is reviewing existing cross bore determination and mitigation practices.

A Complex Problem

Sewer lines, which are often non-metallic and therefore difficult to locate using traditional methods, are most often affected by cross boring. When a gas main or service is inadvertently placed through a sewer line, typically using “trenchless” excavation methods, the resulting cross bore creates a particularly dangerous situation. When a sewer blockage occurs, attempts to clear it can result in gas migration into residences and businesses, with the potential for an explosion.

Compounding the issue is the reality that sewer laterals are often owned by municipalities exempted from One Call membership. As a result, these laterals are not always located and marked. During the facility installation process, gas utilities can attempt to locate sewer lines using surface ground penetrating radar (GPR), acoustic/seismic measures, traceable wire, electronic markers or closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera inspections – a process that typically falls to a specialized contractor.

With several stakeholder groups directly and indirectly involved in the cross bore issue, CGA’s consensus process is essential as we work to reduce this type of damage.

How Member Washington Gas Tackles Cross Bores

CGA member and Bronze Sponsor Washington Gas delivers natural gas in the Washington, D.C. metro region, and has developed a robust and effective cross bore mitigation program after beginning to look at the issue seriously in 2008. Washington Gas’ multi-pronged approach proactively identifies legacy cross bores, addresses new facility installation processes to prevent new cross bores, and integrates day-to-day operational procedures to prevent dangerous situations from developing.

To find and address legacy cross bores, Washington Gas began to systematically review its records to identify locations where the possibility of cross bores was high due to known use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD), moling or other trenchless digging techniques, known conversion work, areas where its facilities are buried at the same depth as water and sewer, and/or proximity of other known cross bores. After identifying potential cross bores via record review, Washington Gas sends contractors to those sites who use CCTV cameras to inspect sewer laterals via either a “lateral launch” capability, or in cases of blockages or other accessibility issues, via a “push camera” from a clean out or from inside of a house. The same camera inspection process was added to the company’s Operations and Maintenance Manual for new installations as well to prevent new cross bores by carefully locating and inspecting sewer facilities by camera before excavation begins, and in some instances after installations are completed.

The company also created and promotes a “Call Before You Clear” program that encourages plumbers and excavators who use mechanical equipment to clear sewer blockages to make an emergency locate request. A Washington Gas locator will respond by painting the approximate location of the gas facility, and the plumber can use those paint marks to assess whether there is the potential for a cross bore. In instances where there is cross bore potential, Washington Gas immediately responds just as it would to a Grade 1 emergency and will stay onsite until the issue is resolved. Washington Gas promotes the “Call Before You Clear” program through One Call centers, customer outreach/education and the training it provides throughout its footprint. The company has mitigated 47 cross bores to date, and damage prevention manager Scott Brown has brought Washington Gas’ mitigation program to bear on his work as a member of the Best Practices committee’s cross bore task team.

2018 DIRT Data will Tell us More

In a data-driven industry, a first step toward addressing a problem is having good information about the issue. As part of a larger revision of the DIRT form, CGA’s Data Evaluation & Reporting Committee added a question to begin measuring instances of cross bores as it collects 2018 data.

As the committee evaluated how best to collect cross bore data, it decided the best solution was to add a simple “yes or no” question in Part C: “Did the event involve a cross bore?” Making cross bore its own root cause would take away the ability to correlate it with other root causes like lack of 811 notification or failure to pothole. DIRT Users Guide material has been written on how to fill out a DIRT report for the various scenarios by which a cross bore condition is created and/or discovered and can be found at

Best Practices Task Team Identifying Cross Bores Mitigation and Determination Practices

In 2014, CGA’s Best Practices committee established a task team dedicated to identifying best practices for determining the presence of and mitigating cross bores. The team has worked diligently since then to incorporate input from CGA’s stakeholder groups, as well as soliciting input from plumbers, and gathered information from providers of technical solutions and several CGA members who have successful cross bore mitigation programs.

At its most recent meeting in March 2018, the task team discussed how the draft language of TR2014-02 is geared mostly toward legacy cross bores, and how membership can work together to identify practices to avoid new cross bores. The team will meet again in July to discuss next steps. If you would like to get involved in the cross bore task team, contact CGA staff at

The Future of Damage Prevention

Addressing the issues surrounding cross bores requires collaborative problem solving across industries and disciplines – an expansive endeavor, but one that CGA is uniquely suited for given its members’ commitment to our shared responsibility philosophy. As CGA increases efforts to measure the scope of the cross bore issue, documents potential technology solutions, and works toward a consensus-based Best Practice, the organization’s integrated program structure is bringing the best minds in damage prevention together to tackle this entrenched issue.

CGA Launches Second 811 Balloon on the West Coast

FOLLOWING the launch of Cox Utility Services’ new Shovelman 811 Balloon in Phoenix in March, CGA and Cox were proud to relaunch the original 811 Balloon on the west coast this summer.

If you would like to request an 811 Balloon appearance at a local balloon festival, state or county fair, or other large-scale outdoor event, please visit the 811 Balloon toolkit on the CGA website at

In case you missed it, here are some of the Shovelman 811 Balloon tour’s highlights:

• Spectators of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Golf Tournament in Columbus, Ohio in late May and early June saw the 811 Balloon flying high above the crowds, thanks to Ohio 811, First Energy and Columbia Gas of Ohio.

• UGI Utilities, Inc. hosted the 811 Balloon at the Edwardsville, Pennsylvania Pierogi Festival June 9-11.

• Over Father’s Day weekend, the 811 Balloon was at the 40th Annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft and Music Festival in Vermont.

• June 23-24, the Michigan Agency for Energy promoted the 811 Balloon’s appearance at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell, Michigan.

• The 811 Balloon promoted safe digging at the Eyes to the Skies Festival benefiting local charities, June 29-July 1, in Lisle, Illinois, courtesy of JULIE, Inc.

• July 6-8, the Shovelman 811 Balloon was at the Hudson Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival spreading the word about 811.

Whether you are on the east coast, west coast or in the heartland, an 811 Balloon could be an eye-catching component of your organization’s damage prevention education outreach. Don’t forget to follow the #811Balloon and #Shovelman hashtags on social media to follow the balloons’ travels.

Common Ground Alliance Wins National Safety Council’s Green Cross for Safety Advocate Award

Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the stakeholder-driven organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities was the recipient of the National Safety Council’s Green Cross for Safety Advocate Award at an awards ceremony in Chicago, May 23.

The National Safety Council is the leading organization working to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road.

CGA drafted and submitted an awards entry in partnership with the American Gas Association (AGA) and United States Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), both long-term partners in working to reduce excavation-related damage to underground infrastructure.

The National Safety’s Council’s Safety Advocate Award recognizes those who have made a significant impact on safety by raising awareness and bringing about change. CGA’s entry focused on the long-term behavioral change that began across the entire United States with the launch of 811 in 2007 as the Federal Communications Commission-designated national “Call Before You Dig” phone number. Prior to 2007, each state had at least one distinct phone number for pre-excavation notification, which prevented a unified national effort to promote the importance of learning the approximate location of buried utilities before digging.

“Earning this Safety Advocate Award from the National Safety Council is additional validation that the work our 1,700 members perform each day to prevent damage to underground infrastructure is critically important.”

CGA, AGA and PHMSA highlighted how annual increases in earned media exposure about 811 and annual visits to coincided with a major increase in national general public awareness of 811 from around 20 percent in 2008 to nearly 50 percent in 2017.

The awards entry also outlined the reduction in annual estimated utility damage/near-miss events by more than 50 percent during the same time span. The 811 campaign has not only raised awareness, but it has also changed behavior and directly saved lives.

“Earning this Safety Advocate Award from the National Safety Council is additional validation that the work our 1,700 members perform each day to prevent damage to underground infrastructure is critically important,” said Sarah K. Magruder Lyle, President and CEO of CGA. “This award highlights a very crucial piece of our safety message – while our stakeholders work diligently to prevent damages to underground infrastructure, we want to ensure that every professional excavator goes home safe to their families each night. Additionally, this award recognizes that 811 has played a critical role in raising awareness among homeowners of the ‘Call Before You Dig’ process and helping to keep communities safe and connected. CGA and its members will continue to work diligently to reduce the number of these events in the years to come.”

Calendar of Upcoming Events

September 8-11: Australian Pipelines & Gas Association National Convention (Darwin, AUS)

September 11-13: Pipeline Week (Houston, TX)

September 12-15: Power & Communication Contractors Association (Southampton, BM)

September 19-22: JJ Harrison at Four States Fair & Rodeo (Texarkana, AR)

September 17-29: WaterPro Conference (Fort Worth, TX)

September 25-27: Alabama Damage Prevention Summit (Montgomery, AL)

September 25-28: 2018 American Petroleum Institute Association of Oil Pipelines (Denver, CO)

September 28-30: JJ Harrison at Poway Rodeo (Poway, CA)

October 8-12: American Petroleum Institute Fall Committee Meeting on Petroleum Measurement Standards (San Francisco, CA)

October 9-10: OCOA Fall Meeting (Las Vegas, NV)

October 12 & 13: JJ Harrison at San Dimas Western Days Rodeo (San Dimas, CA)

October 15-18: Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (Dallas, TX)

October 15-18: Telecommunications Association of the Southeast (Point Clear, AL)

October 15-19: National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives National Meeting (Santa Fe, NM)

October 16 & 17: Pipeline Technology Forum (Houston, TX)

October 18-20: JJ Harrison at The NILE (Billings, MT)

October 22-24: National Safety Council Congress & Expo (Houston, TX)

October 22-25: Cable Tec Expo (Atlanta, GA)

October 23-25: Virginia Pipeline Safety Conference (Virginia Beach, VA)

October 23-26: Greater Chesapeake Damage Prevention Training & Conference (Ocean City, MD)

October 25 & 26: Association of Oil Pipelines Fall Leadership Meeting (Washington, DC)

October 28-31: AWWA Water Infrastructure Conference (Atlanta, GA)

November 1 & 2: INGAA Foundation Annual Meeting (GA)

November 2 & 3: JJ Harrison at Columbia River Circuit Finals (Yakima, WA)

November 6-8: Incident Prevention Utility Safety Conference & Expo (Orlando, FL)

November 7-9: Mississippi Damage Prevention Summit (Biloxi, MS)

November 12-14: CGA Committee Meetings (Braselton, GA)

November 14-16: Midwest Damage Prevention Training (French Lick, IN)

November 25-29: American Water Works Association Florida Section Fall Conference (Orlando, FL)

To include your event in an upcoming Calendar of Events schedule, email

The 811 Trike: A New Damage Prevention Icon


One Call Concepts, Inc. (OCC) and One Call Concepts Locating Services (OCCLS) are pleased to announce the release of a new icon for damage prevention: the 811 Trike. Built by Paul Jr. Designs (PJD) as the third OCC-commissioned 811 vehicle, the 811 Trike was unveiled on April 25, 2018 at the OCC Corporate/OCCLS office in Hanover, Maryland. In agreement with the Discovery Channel, the hit show “American Chopper” aired an episode on June 25, 2018 showcasing the design, construction, and unveiling of the new 811 vehicle.

The 811 Trike is a customized three-wheeled bike, built with a high-performance Ultima Long Rod 140 Engine with 160 horsepower and 175 lbs-ft of torque. The engine has heavy duty C355 castings and dynamic balanced press pin crank shafts with eight rods to increase performance. Paul Jr. incorporated similar symbols from the damage prevention industry into the design of the 811 Car, Bike, and Trike to make them thematically similar. Backhoe buckets, digging tools, and an 811 logo can be seen in all three. A new, unique feature on the Trike are the APWA color-coded mechanized cords running through the vehicle that represent the five (out of eight) main utility colors: yellow, green, orange, red, and blue.

Current plans call for the 811 Trike and Bike to travel the nation together continuing the Car and Bike’s tradition of teaching new audiences about the importance of protecting our underground infrastructure. As stated by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), underground utility damage prevention is a shared responsibility. Together, we can reduce the number of underground damages that occur on a day-to-day basis. Watch for a Trike appearance near you in 2018 and follow the 811 vehicles on the Facebook page “811 on the Road” for more information, photos, videos, and giveaways!

Lareina Taing is Marketing Communications Specialist, Creative Services Division with One Call Concepts, Inc. She can be reached at

Georgia 811 Uses New Infographic in Marketing Strategies

Georgia 811 President, Meghan Wade, created the featured infographic to assist stakeholders’ understanding of the safe digging process in Georgia. Statistics suggest that incorporating original content, infographics, and visual graphics increase web traffic. The use of the “Life of a Locate Request” infographic has been extremely helpful in marketing strategies for Georgia 811. The Corporate Communications Department has used the infographic in excavator mailouts as well as various social media channels and will continue to develop infographics as part of ongoing campaigns.

Public Awareness Garden at Taste of Chicago


The Greater Chicago Damage Prevention Council teamed up with the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, the Chicago Department of Transportation, 811 Chicago and the Get Growing Foundation to create a public awareness garden at the hugely popular Taste of Chicago festival, which took place July 11-15 in Grant Park. Attendance was estimated at 1.75 million.

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