Contractors and backhoes are by far the leading excavator type and equipment type when a damage occurs, while types of work performed are more varied. Telecommunications/cable TV is the leading type of work performed, with water and sewer work also contributing to a large number of damages. There are likely several reasons water and sewer work make up more than 30% of the work performed. One primary contributor is that these facilities are often the deepest in urban and suburban streets. This means that to access them for installation or repair, the excavation must get past the shallower utilities like natural gas, telecommunications, electric, etc. Excavations to perform water and sewer work also tend to be wide and lengthy, increasing the probability of encountering other utilities. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 will increase federal investments in water and sewer systems, leading to an increase in related excavation work in the coming years.
Water and sewer work is often done by (or for) municipalities. Increasing engagement and accountability of municipalities will be critical to driving down damages.