Billions wasted by not calling ahead of construction, Missouri top offender

Local News

Dig hard ground with a shovel. Garden work in the fall.

ST. LOUIS – There is a number that many in Missouri do not call before they begin construction projects and it is causing costly waste and excess bills.

The nation’s 811 system is used to prevent damage to underground utility lines and people choosing not to call the number before they dig is costing $61 billion a year in waste and excess according to the Infrastructure Protection Coalition, a group of associations representing broadband, electric, natural gas, pipeline, transportation, sewer, and water industries.

Results from the study show Missouri as a low performer. The data was shown with a color-coded map.

This color-coded map shows states based on their 811 system performance. Those in green are among the best performers, pale yellow in the second quartile, bright yellow in the third and the lowest performers in red.

“Ultimately, ratepayers are picking up the tab for this waste and bearing the public safety risk. Some states have figured out how to work this system safely and efficiently, and there’s no reason others cannot do the same,” a coalition member and president and CEO of the Power & Communication Contractors Association Tim Wagner said.

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia make up more than 20 percent of the national waste which is approximately $13 billion. The study said this is due to 811 policies in these places that do not require mandatory reporting of damage to utility lines.

“The important message here is that this is an imminently fixable situation. We can dramatically improve the system to improve public safety and cut waste with a combination of law, regulation, and process changes mirroring what the best performing states are already doing,” Wagner said.

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