Common Ground Alliance Reports Underground Utility Damages Declining

October 2009 Vol. 64 No. 10

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the nation’s leading organization focused on protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, announced findings from its comprehensive Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report. The estimated total number of underground utility damages occurring in the U.S. in 2008 has decreased to 200,000 from the 2004 and 2007 estimates of 450,000 and 256,000 respectively.

The total number of events submitted for 2008 was 135,521, which represents facility damages, near misses and/or downtime incurred. The number of event submissions increased for the fifth consecutive year, which is indicative of broader support for voluntary data submission into DIRT.

Of the total number of incidents reported in 2008, more than half (73,152) had a known root cause, and were identified as follows:

• Notification not made - 37 percent
• Excavation practices not sufficient - 37 percent
• Locating practices not sufficient - 22 percent
• Notification practices not sufficient - 3 percent
• Miscellaneous root cause - 1 percent

Reported damages with "Notification Not Made" as the root cause are down to 37 percent from 48 percent in 2004, the year when DIRT submissions began. More than ever, homeowners are calling their one call centers prior to beginning projects on their properties. The implementation of “811” in May 2007 has had a positive impact on the calling process.

The complete DIRT Annual Report for 2008 is available for download at For stakeholders interested in submitting data to the 2009 report, or establishing a VPD account, visit the DIRT site at