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Publisher’s Message – National Safe Digging Month

Kelly VanNatten

April is National Safe Digging Month, and this issue of Trenchless Technology supports with a focus on damage prevention solutions and practices.

The 2021 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report released by the Common Ground Alliance late last year, showed that there was a slight increase in damages since 2019 and that the root causes were attributed to 1) digging without notification to an 811 call center, 2) failing to pothole/maintain sufficient clearance 3) facilities not being marked/being marked inaccurately due to locator error and/or incorrect facility records/maps. Looking specifically at horizontal directional drilling, the DIRT Report shows that many damages involving HDD can be attributed to facility operators, or their subcontractors, hitting each other and/or themselves.

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These stats tell us that we all need to be promoting damage prevention practices and solutions, sharing success stories and lessons learned, and getting involved with organizations, like the Common Ground Alliance, that are dedicated to preventing damage to underground utility infrastructure.

Our cover story looks at the evolution of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) and its role in trenchless works. SUE is a branch of civil engineering practice dedicated to managing the risks of underground utilities. It goes beyond designating and locating utilities and includes the review of utility data and managing the data in the form of maps and other digital models. It is a key component in the design phase of projects. Managing editor Mike Kezdi spoke to several key players in the growth of SUE in North America to get their perspective on where the sector stands.

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For more on damage prevention, be sure to download Trenchless Technology’s Damage Prevention Special Report. Topics covered include advanced GPR arrays for large scale efficient utility designation and mapping; advancing SUE through the Utility Investigation School (UIS); cross bore safety technology; and a showcase of damage prevention solutions. You can download this free Special Report on

Mark Your Calendar for These National Days!

World Trenchless Day, Sept. 28, 2023
Learn how you can participate in Trenchless Technology’s 2023 World Trenchless Day Video tribute. Email for details.

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National 811 Day, August 11
Promotes the practice of safe digging by calling 8-1-1 before digging

National Construction Appreciation Week, the third week in September
Recognizes the hard-working men and women instrumental in the development of our infrastructure

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Women in Construction Week, the first full week of March
Taking place every March, Women in Construction Week recognizes and raises awareness of women in the construction industry.

World Water Day, March 22
Celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water

These national days are a fun way to bring awareness to topics that are important and meaningful to you. Of course there’s many more national days than what I have listed here! You can search for a complete list.

As always, we are here to serve you, our readers. If you have any suggestions or comments, please email me at

Until next month!

Kelly VanNatten

Publisher, Trenchless Technology