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Common Ground Alliance Hosts Conference & Expo in Colorado On Preventing Utility Damages

Mon April 22, 2024 - National Edition #9
Common Ground Alliance

Photo courtesy of Common Ground Alliance

Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the people who dig near them, hosted its 2024 Annual CGA Conference & Expo at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

With 1,400 damage prevention leaders in attendance, the CGA Conference & Expo is the largest gathering of its kind in America.

More than 38 times each day on average in Colorado, buried power, water, gas, internet and other utility lines are damaged by digging. That's over 14,000 times each year that Coloradans' lives and businesses are interrupted by damage to underground infrastructure. In fact, contractors were fined $500,000 for damaging 766 utility lines just in Colorado Springs alone. April also is National Safe Digging Month across the country.

"This was our largest-ever Conference & Expo, and it's a testament to the growing importance of preventing damage to underground infrastructure that affects Coloradans 38 times each day," said CGA President and CEO Sarah Magruder Lyle.

"We thank Colorado Springs and the state of Colorado for the warm welcome to this beautiful state. And we're grateful for the partnership of our attendees, sponsors and Colorado 811 for helping share that preventing damage to the utilities we all rely on is a shared responsibility we can achieve together."

Prominent Colorado elected leaders welcomed CGA and the attendees to the state with video messages, including Gov. Jared Polis, Congressman Doug Lamborn, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Congressman Jason Crow, State Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, State House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese and State Senator Chris Hansen.

"Thank you to CGA for the work you do to protect our homes, businesses and communities from underground utility damage," said Polis. "It's important to follow best practices when protecting our key services and keeping people safe. Taking steps to mark utilities and contacting 811 before every dig can help us know what's below and prevent accidental damage to underground utilities."

"As a former county commissioner, I understand how critical it is that we work together to support the underground infrastructure that helps power our communities," said Colorado House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese. "The work you all at CGA do to prevent and minimize that damage is critical to helping our communities safely grow and deliver the energy and water that we use every day in Colorado."

Attendees included senior level executives from across 16 key industries, including leading utilities, state 811 call centers, oil and gas pipeline, construction, insurance, equipment manufacturing and damage prevention and underground locating technology companies, such as Verizon, Rust-oleum, Colorado 811, Honeywell, Colorado Springs Utilities, Black Hills Energy, Kinder Morgan and others.

Attendees received inspiring lessons from keynote speaker former NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Mike Mullane. He spoke about the risks of accepting a lower standard of performance until that lower standard becomes the norm. Attendees also participated in nearly 70 interactive educational sessions on improving collaboration, safety, accurate underground mapping, machine learning and artificial intelligence and more.

Expo Hall

More than 100 exhibitors and nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space — the conference's largest-ever and the equivalent of nearly two football fields — showcased the latest technology for safely digging, locating and installing fiber/broadband, water, gas, power and other utility lines. Examples include GPS-enabled ground-penetrating radar devices, vacuum excavation equipment that allows digging using compressed air or high-pressure water, and cloud-enabled handheld subsurface mapping equipment.

Industry Awards

CGA also recognized top leaders in the industry through prestigious industry awards. Shawn Lyon, senior vice president of logistics & storage at MPLX, received the President's Award. Josh Hinrichs, president of UtiliSource and outgoing CGA board chair, received the Hall of Fame Award. This year's Groundbreaker Award honored the late Craig Rogers, former Nevada Public Utilities Commissioner.

The 2025 CGA Conference & Expo will be held at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Fla., April 7-11, 2025.

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