Revamped Common Ground Alliance DIRT Report Estimates Damage to Buried Utilities Has Increased on Pace with Excavation Activity Between 2015 and 2017
Report analyzes when damages to the nation’s infrastructure are most likely to occur

Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the stakeholder-driven organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them and their communities, today announced its findings and analysis of utility damage and near-miss events in the 2017 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report.

The report, which analyzes all 2017 data submitted anonymously and voluntarily by facility operators, utility locating companies, one call centers, contractors, regulators and others, used a refined statistical modeling process to estimate that 439,000 excavation-related damages to underground facilities occurred in 2017, up 5.5 percent from a revised 2016 estimate.

CGA, in collaboration with its statistical analysis consultant, Green Analytics, applied a new approach to estimating total U.S. damages for 2017, as well as the previous two years. It found that while estimated damages increased year-over-year from 2015 to 2016 and again from 2016 to 2017, when excavation activity is considered, damages have effectively plateaued during this three-year span, as measured by ratios of damages to construction spending and damages to utility locate notifications from one call centers to their member facility operators.

The 2017 DIRT Report includes an analysis of when damages occur, by month and day of the week, for the first time, leading to several findings that can help damage prevention stakeholders best target their public awareness messages. Specifically, the report found the following:

  • Damages that occurred on a weekend were nearly twice as likely to have involved hand tools (shovels, post-hole diggers, etc.) than those that occurred on a weekday.
  • 50 percent of all reported damages occurred between June and September in 2017.
  • August was the month with the most total damages in 2017.

Among all damage reports with an identified and known root cause, the majority (52.2 percent) occurred because of insufficient excavation practices, continuing a trend from recent years where this was the top identified root cause in the DIRT Report. Other identified root causes were as follows:

  • Notification not made – 23.5 percent
  • Locating practices not sufficient – 16.8 percent
  • Miscellaneous – 6.5 percent
  • Notification practices not sufficient – 1.0 percent

“As the leading source of utility damage data and analysis, CGA is constantly evaluating the statistical models we use to ensure we are producing the best possible report to guide our public awareness, education and training efforts in the damage prevention industry,” said Sarah K. Magruder Lyle, president and CEO of CGA. “The latest DIRT Report shows that our collective challenge to reduce utility damage is increasing as excavation activity increases. CGA stands ready to support all damage prevention stakeholders in addressing this challenge through public awareness campaigns, Best Practices, regional partnerships, promotion of new technologies and offering resources to educate state policymakers on the importance of balanced and effective enforcement laws.”

Once again, CGA has made an interactive DIRT Dashboard accessible to the public through its website, allowing users to view and query the data through the lens of a specific element, e.g., damages by state, root cause analysis, etc. This dashboard features a series of visualizations that allow users to sort information through additional filters, giving damage prevention stakeholders a powerful tool for identifying areas where they can have the biggest positive impact.

“CGA’s Data Reporting and Evaluation Committee took on a significant challenge during the past year as we re-evaluated the way we analyze and report on submitted data,” said Bruce Campbell, Data Committee co-chair from MISS DIG 811, the one call center for Michigan. “DIRT data is one of the best tools available for any damage prevention stakeholder who seeks a better understanding of why damages occur.”

The complete DIRT Annual Report for 2017 is available for download at, and stakeholders interested in submitting data to the 2018 report or establishing a Virtual Private Dirt account should visit the DIRT site at


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By Whitney Nichols
2018 Membership Survey Results

Click here to download the full 2018 Membership Survey results. Learn more about Colorado 811 Membership here. For any questions relating to membership please email the Member Services Department at [email protected].


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By Whitney Nichols
2018 Excavator Survey Results

Click here to download the full 2018 Excavator Survey results.


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By Whitney Nichols
Network Outage Update

Colorado 811 Network Outage Update – September 6 and 7, 2018

  • On September 6, 2018 at approximately 10:35 am Colorado 811 experienced a network outage due to a failure of a T3/DS3 network circuit at one of CO811’s network provider’s operation centers.
  • The network outage resulted in the temporary loss of all inbound and outbound telecommunications and internet access for all onsite employees. Colorado 811 Teleworkers lost phone communications and access to internal Colorado 811 software applications. Our Members and the public temporally lost the ability to call the contact center at Colorado 811 via phone for twenty-five minutes.
  • The specific cause of the failure is unknown at this time; however, we continue to push for a detailed incident report from our network provider.
  • At 10:45 am Colorado 811 engaged the Network Operations Center’s management Team and escalated the support ticket to its highest level. After some conversation with network engineers and their managers it was determined that the problem was downstream at another location with the Local Exchange Provider (LEC). An additional ticket was opened with the LEC to further troubleshoot the issue impacting Colorado 811.
  • At 11:00 am Colorado 811 successfully routed all 811-phone traffic to an alternate phone server located offsite. This resulted in the ability for 5-6 teleworkers to process tickets and receive 811 phone calls from their homes. The first phone call was received and processed at 11:03 am. All Colorado 811 services were available at this point. Hold times may have increased due to the limited number of agents that were available.
  • Between 12:00 pm and 12:45 pm Colorado 811 successfully configured the contact center agent workstations and phones to route traffic over an alternate managed internet circuit. The result was the restoration of phone and internet service to the contact center agents. By 12:45pm every agent had been configured to run on the alternate network circuit and the contact center was fully operational.
  • At 12:47 pm Colorado 811’s Network provider indicated that the circuit should now be restored. The circuit was tested by IT, who concluded that the circuit was not yet fully capable of carrying the load of phone calls and network traffic required to operate. IT could still see network package loss and bandwidth issues on the circuit. IT escalated the support ticket again and Colorado 811 asked the provider to continue with their troubleshooting process. Our contact center remained on the alternate circuit for the remainder of the day.
  • From 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Colorado 811 and the network provider performed troubleshooting throughout the evening. It was decided to leave the contact center on the alternate circuit until the restored circuit proved that it was ready for production.
  • On September 7, 2018, the restored MPLS circuit passed all checks for packet loss, latency and bandwidth. At 9:00 am Colorado 811 IT began the process of switching the contact center agents back to their original configuration. All Colorado 811 services are available.

CURRENT STATUS: We are seeing some slowness on the circuit creep back up. We have moved about 10 agents back, but we’ll pause for now. We just spoke to CenturyLink to escalate with a manager. We were told that a tech would be reassigned to the ticket again and that we may need to take the circuit down for testing. They will let us know first before they do that. We explained our business (public safety organization), our problem and our frustration.

Click here to download the official Network Outage Update PDF


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By Whitney Nichols
CGA Monthly Update – August 2018

The August 2018 CGA newsletter is now available. Click here to read the latest industry news.


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By Whitney Nichols
Communication/Internet Outage

Thursday September 6, 2018 – 10:45 am 

We are currently experiencing a communications system outage. We are diligently working to resolve this issue. At this time we ask all callers to utilize Ticket Express or Web Ticket Entry to submit ticket requests.

If you have an emergency or damage ticket, please note that information in the marking instructions box.

Friday September 7, 2018 – 8:55 am 

Communications outage update: Our internet and communications services are back up and functional. We are working with our service providers to minimize outages like this in the future. We thank you all for your patience!

Please follow our us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


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By Whitney Nichols
Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission Nominations

Safety Commission Nominations

On May 25, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-167 into law. This bill included the creation of the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission, effective August 8, 2018.

In order to assist in preventing damage to underground facilities, this commission is charged with the following tasks:

  • Making recommendations regarding:
    • Best practices and training
    • Policies to enhance public safety
    • Policies to improve efficiency and cost savings to the 811 program
  • Reviewing complaints of alleged violations and ordering appropriate remedial action/penalties

How to Apply

Applications for the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission are now being accepted.

Apply for the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission

The Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission will include 15 people from the following categories. Those selected to serve on the commission will do so for a term of three years except for the initial appointment terms noted below.

Nomination Category Nominated by # of Representatives on the Commission
County* Colorado Counties, Inc. 1
Municipality* Colorado Municipal League 1
Special District* Special District Association of Colorado 1
Energy Producer* Colorado’s Energy Industry 1
Contractor* Colorado Contractors Association 1
Excavator** Excavator Members of the Notification Association 2
Engineer** American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado 1
Investor-Owner Utility** Investor-Owner Utilities 1
Rural Electric Cooperative** Colorado Rural Electric Association 1
Pipeline Company** Colorado Pipeline Association 1
Telecommunications and Broadband Company Colorado Telecommunications and Broadband Industry 1
Water Utility Colorado Water Utility Council 1
Transportation Department of Transportation 1
Farming/Ranching Commissioner of Agriculture 1

*One-year initial appointment

**Two-year initial appointment


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By Whitney Nichols
Risk Management Training Notice

Colorado 811 employees will be participating in a risk management training today (Thursday, July 26, 2018). You may experience longer hold times, we recommend utilizing our online services, such as Ticket Express to process your locate requests Thank you for your patience!


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By Whitney Nichols
Legislative FAQs – 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the new law, scroll below to see FAQs by category.


When will Tier 2 Members need to start paying for tickets as a Tier 1 Member?

All Tier 2 members who convert to Tier 1 will not be charged outgoing transmission fees until January 1, 2021.

Is there a grace period for Tier Two members for ticket payment?

All Tier 2 Members who convert to Tier 1 will not be charged outgoing transmission fees until January 1st of 2021. 

Do facility owners/operators need to register service lines on private property?

No, only laterals in the public right-of-way need to be registered.

Can a member convert from Tier 2 to Tier 1 before Jan, 1, 2019?

Yes, a Tier 2 can convert to Tier-1 before Jan. 1, 2019. Colorado 811 has agreed to the conversion at no charge to allow an appropriate amount of time to accommodate all Tier 2 members.

When will the Tier-2 to Tier-1 conversions begin under the new law?

The conversions are mandatory effective Jan. 1, 2019. Colorado 811 has agreed to the conversion at no charge to allow an appropriate amount of time to accommodate all Tier-2 members.

Will there be a Tier 2 Director on the Board of Directors after the new law is passed?

Yes, there will be a Tier 2 Board of Director until December 31, 2020.

Safety Commission

What are home rule cities and how are they different?

Home rule cities by the Colorado constitution are cities that have the full right of self-government in local and municipal matters.  The larger home rule cities include Denver, Aurora, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. Home Rule cities can create their own safety commissions and can enforce the one-call law and imposed penalties for failure to comply with the law.

Will Colorado 811 provide data to the Safety Commission on an annual basis?

Yes.  Colorado 811 will annually provide a report as well as real time data for the Safety Commission’s work related to underground excavations and safety.

Can engineering companies give feedback to Safety Commission once in place?

Any person can provide feedback to the Safety Commission.

Will there be an entity responsible for holding stakeholders accountable under the new law?

Yes, the Colorado Safety Commission will have the responsibility to enforce the provisions of the law related to safe practices.  The Safety Commission can impose penalties for failure to comply with the law.  Home Rule cities may create a safety commission which also have the power to impose penalties for failure to comply with the law.  Facility owners and operators and excavators may bring civil actions for damage claims separate from the actions of the Safety Commission.

What cities are exempt from complying with the new Safety Commission requirements?

Only Home Rule cities are exempt from complying with the Safety Commission requirements but they must create their own safety commissions.

Regarding "home rule", if a municipality decides to invoke the home rule, doesn't this simply mean that the State cannot enforce any penalties against the municipality? Yet, can't the state still impose penalties against an excavator that has violated the state law against the municipality. i.e. damage caused due to no locate request? Or does this require the municipality to establish their own safety commission?
CO 811 is not in a position to offer an opinion regarding whether or not the State of Colorado can enforce penalties against a municipality under the new law.  The newly created Safety Commission will establish regulations that address this issue in cooperation with the Colorado Attorney General.CO 811 is not in a position to offer an opinion regarding whether or not the State of Colorado can enforce penalties against a municipality under the new law.  The newly created Safety Commission will establish regulations that address this issue in cooperation with the Colorado Attorney General.

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

Will there be a fee for engineering tickets that is different from the existing fee?

 The cost or fee for the outgoing transmission will remain the same for all members. The costs associated with an engineering locate request will be paid by the project owner.

What is ASCE 38 Standard?

ASCE Standards provide technical guidelines for promoting safety, reliability, productivity, and efficiency in civil engineering. For more information please visit

How will licensed professional engineers receive documentation related to Subsurface Utility Engineering Notifications?

Within 10 days of the notice provided, licensed professional engineers will receive documentation directly from the facility owner/operator.


Did the definition for exemptions change under the new law?

Yes, there are several modifications in the new law regarding exemptions they include: farmers/ranchers and new requirements for governmental agencies relative to road grading. Please note, there is no exemption for gravity fed systems. Although, these exemptions exist it is extremely dangerous to dig without first notifying Colorado 811 for the location of underground facilities.

What is the significance of defining “gravity-fed systems” in the law? Where is it referenced under the new legislation?

Gravity fed systems are now defined to clarify what information has to be provided in the event there is a request for a locate related to sub-surface utility engineering. The law defining this exemption is located at section 9-1.5-102 (3.4).

Are there new requirements regarding road grading?

Yes, there are new requirements regarding road grading. The Procedures Committee of Colorado 811 is currently devising specific procedures and guidelines that will be available within the next couple of months. (From law: ANNUAL ROAD MAINTENANCE THAT DOES NOT EXCEED SIX INCHES IN DEPTH CONDUCTED BY A GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY ON AN EXISTING UNPAVED ROAD, THE MARKING SHALL BE CONSIDERED VALID FOR UP TO ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS.)


Who is required to locate laterals in the public right-of-way?

 All underground facility owner/operators are responsible for the location of service laterals in the public right-of-way.

How will Colorado 811 provide documentation of the underground facilities in the form of hand written/ digital sketches or photography?

It is Colorado 811’s intent to provide the excavator this information through the Positive Response system.

Can an excavator put another excavator on his/her ticket? How many can you list on one ticket?

 Yes, an excavator requiring existing marked underground facilities to be exposed may list a single secondary excavator on its notice to Colorado 811.

It also says in (c) (1) (A) "When utilizing trenchless excavation methods, the excavator shall expose underground facilities and visually observe the safe crossing of marked underground facilities when requested to do so by the underground facility owner or operator or the government agency that issued a permit for the excavation." Question is, will this require a new positive response code?
A new positive response code will not be necessary as the facility owner will still be required to locate the area of excavation, if applicable. However, the facility owner and excavator must communicate to ensure that the visual crossing of marked underground facilities has been exercised.

Click here to submit any legislative questions

Click here to download a pdf of the 2018 Legislative FAQs


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By Whitney Nichols
Memorial Day 2018 – Holiday Closure

Colorado 811 will be closed Monday, May 28th, 2018 for Memorial Day. This means the Contact Center will only process Damage and Emergency Requests on the 28th. Normal Locate Requests processed on Thursday, May 24th will be due Tuesday, May 29th at 11:59pm. Normal Locate Requests processed on Friday, May 25th will be due on Wednesday, May 30th at 11:59pm. For any questions or concerns regarding holiday closures, please contact our front desk at (303) 232-1991.

Reminder to Colorado 811 Members:

  • Mark by (Locate By) dates are NOT scheduled on any Federal Holiday
  • The phone number for Colorado 811 to call during holiday closures should be the same as your after hours number
  • If your organization is a non-participant in after hours notification, you WILL NOT be notified on holidays



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By Whitney Nichols