ONE CALL CENTERS ARE EXPERIENCING A RECORD NUMBER OF CALLS AND ENTRIES INTO THE SYSTEM. ONE PROBLEM, THOUGH, IS THAT THE VERY NAME “ONE CALL CENTER” IMPLIES THAT A SINGLE CALL WILL RESULT IN ALL UTILITY LINES BEING LOCATED, WHEN IN FACT, IN MANY INSTANCES, THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
Each year during the CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo, industry professionals from around the world gather for the International Locate Summit. This session is designed to address damage prevention issues concerning the locating industry. It consists of a panel of professionals that include contract locators, private locators, excavating contractors and international locators. Each panelist gives a short introduction with their thoughts on the topic presented. This is followed by open discussion which includes questions, answers and thoughts from the audience.
This year, the topic for discussion is private utility lines. Many consider this to be the next step in the evolution of damage prevention. For years, the industry, led by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), has done an amazing job of educating and promoting the “Call before you dig/811” message. One Call Centers are experiencing a record number of calls and entries into the system. One problem, though, is that the very name “One Call Center” implies that a single call will result in all utility lines being located, when in fact, in many instances, this is not the case.
Another more basic problem is developing the definition of a “private utility line” that the industry will embrace. Definitions vary across the country from any utility that is not part of the One Call system, whether required or not, to only utility lines owned by individuals or companies on private property, and many more. This is one of many subtopics planned for discussion.
Yet another part of the issue is the topic of education when dealing with private utility lines. Many One Call Centers don’t address these lines at all and only add a disclaimer that any other utility owners should be contacted directly. Many websites make no mention at all about these lines. Some One Call Centers, however, do an excellent job in this area, including websites and contact information for companies that specialize in locating private lines. As the executive director of Nulca, my hope is this session will lead to an exchange of ideas on how to educate everyone about these lines.
Finally, the issue of responsibility for having private lines marked will be addressed. Is it the homeowner/property owner, the project owner, the excavator or others that have the responsibility of having these lines marked? This simple question has sparked a great deal of debate in the industry. Many in the industry believe that homeowners/ property owners have no idea what is on their property, let alone how to get it located. Contractors, in many cases, don’t believe they should carry the burden of paying for someone to locate these lines. This topic should generate some great conversation during the Summit.
Nulca is proud to again moderate this event in 2019. Nulca represents utility locating professionals from across North America and collaborates with groups all over the world. We have introduced proposals dealing with this issue to the CGA Best Practices Committee and it is our hope that this session will help to guide the process and lead to substantial improvements in the area of private utility lines. For more information about Nulca, go to nulca.org.
The Underground Safety Summit: Private Utility Locates is scheduled in the USIC Damage Prevention Theater at 9:30 Thursday morning, March 28, at the Tampa Convention Center, during the CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo.