Washington, D.C, December 20, 2021 — The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) calls for implementing existing technological solutions into the damage prevention process in its newest report, Improving Upon Our Dig Laws. The report points out that the years-long problem of rising damage is matched with years of effective solutions ready to be implemented, but nevertheless not enacted.

The primary issue is that excavation damage (digging that hits pipelines and underground infrastructure) is happening in ever-increasing waves year after year. These damages cost the economy $30 billion each year, on top of a reported $61 billion in annual waste and inefficiency. Beyond economic costs, excavation damage injures and kills dozens of people every year and threatens the environment with hazardous liquids and gases.

This report surveys the latest activity and reports from the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the nation’s primary damage prevention stakeholder member organization dedicated to protecting subsurface infrastructure. Three primary takeaways include:

  1. In 2020, there was a pause in the multi-year increasing damage trend due to COVID-19, not reform
  2. Systemic issues and inefficiencies led CGA to project even more damage going forward
  3. Solutions recommended by CGA itself, numerous federal safety agencies, and others are waiting to be implemented systemwide

“It is a bit maddening to see both industry and regulators point to the same solutions, then watch the problem get worse because no one acted,” said Benjamin Dierker, report author and Aii Director of Public Policy. “We are currently witnessing an unnecessary political volleyball, with Congress asking an agency to study an issue and the agency reporting back to Congress with the solution for them – and four years later still no action.”

The solutions proposed in this report include Electronic White-Lining and Enhanced Positive Response. These innovative technology-based solutions are improved forms of tried and true best practices in the industry for decades. They are each demonstrated to reduce damage, save costs, increase efficiency, and promote public safety. Each improves communication between excavators, locators, and utility operators to improve clarity and understanding about the presence and location of underground infrastructure on a dig site.

Without these being adopted systemically, everyone from mom and pop contractors to commercial construction crews will run the risk of striking a pipeline, water main, electrical line, or other critical facility.

Aii points to numerous federal and state agencies, industry stakeholders, nonprofits, and independent sources to support the need for taking these known, effective, and innovative tools and mandating them in some form as a basic threshold in the damage prevention process just like calling 811.

Click here to read the report.

To learn more about the Aii and our infrastructure work, visit Aii.org.



About the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure

The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization dedicated to identifying our nation’s infrastructure needs, creating awareness of those needs, and finding solutions to critical public policy challenges. Aii strives to promote proven, innovative technology and higher safety standards in a non-partisan manner to achieve excellence nationwide. The Alliance is a think tank consisting of two non-profits: the National Infrastructure Safety Foundation (NISF) 501(c)(4) and the Public Institute for Facility Safety (PIFS) 501(c)(3). (Aii.org)