APWA encourages members to join the Common Ground Alliance

Leonard A. Krumm, P.E.
Senior Consultant
CNA Consulting Engineers

What is the Common Ground Alliance?
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a new, non-profit organization incorporated in September 2000 in Washington, D.C. The CGA is dedicated to the concept of shared responsibility in damage prevention for underground facilities and the promotion of the best practices in damage prevention. Most of the currently identified best practices were identified through the Common Ground Study which examined One-Call Systems and Damage Prevention Best Practices. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and was completed in 1999.

The CGA was established under Congressional directive through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott contributed significantly to this effort. Subtitle C of TEA-21, Comprehensive One-Call Notification, was aimed at reducing damage to buried facilities during excavation while protecting the public and the environment.

Under TEA-21, the Department of Transportation was directed to study current damage prevention practices and to identify and document those considered most effective. The Office of Pipeline Safety brought together 160 people from a wide variety of stakeholder interest groups, including representatives of APWA. The purpose was to identify and evaluate current damage prevention practices and, by consensus, agree on those considered to be the best. The Study report also addressed the need for continuous improvements in safety and service reliability.

The purpose of the CGA, as stated in the Bylaws of the corporation, is to prevent damage to underground infrastructure by: (a) fostering a sense of shared responsibility for the protection of underground facilities; (b) supporting research; (c) developing and conducting public awareness and education programs; (d) identifying and disseminating the stakeholder best practices such as those embodied in the Common Ground Study; and (e) serving as a clearing house for the damage data collection, analysis, and dissemination.

The CGA is about sharing solutions to damage prevention issues. The Common Ground Study and the spirit of stakeholder cooperation established during the Study is the foundation on which the Common Ground Alliance has been built. There are seats for representatives in 14 stakeholder interest groups (see side bar) on the CGA Board of Directors. Membership in the CGA is open to any individual or organization who has an interest in or who supports the promotion of underground facility damage prevention, infrastructure protection, and the stated purpose of the corporation. APWA participated in the Common Ground Study and is an active supporter of the Common Ground Alliance.

In addition to APWA's participation and representation as a primary stakeholder for public works, one-call centers and the OCSI are represented as well. Ron Olitsky, chair of One-Call Systems International, also represents the Underground Safety Institute. A number of OCSI members serve as primary participants on the five CGA working committees.

Why should I belong to the Common Ground Alliance?
Damaged buried utilities can interrupt vital services to the citizens that public works directors and city engineers are employed to serve. Yearly, millions of dollars in damages, serious injuries, and even loss of life result from damages to buried facilities. Public officials are directly involved in planning, building, operating, and repairing many types of buried public facilities, as well as managing the use of the right-of-way by the energy and communications sector. Because of these activities, we share with facility owners and excavators the responsibility of protecting our vital buried infrastructure. This responsibility can be very complex when you consider everything buried below the pavement: storm and sanitary sewers, water mains, traffic signal wiring, district heating and cooling, cable TV, electric lines, communication lines, gas lines, and oil lines, to name the more common.

The CGA is dedicated to preventing damage through the shared responsibility of all organizations having a mutual interest in protecting underground facilities. The CGA will also be crucial in providing information to legislators regarding damage prevention. Legislation backed by this broad-based, national alliance of stakeholders will have a greater impact than that of individual special interest groups.

What can I do to help the Common Ground Alliance?
The CGA's success is dependent on member participation. APWA is seeking individuals to serve as primary members on each of CGA's five working committees: Best Practices; Research and Development; Educational Programs; Data Reporting and Evaluation; and Marketing, Membership and Communications. The side bar contains descriptions for each of these working committees. Each committee is composed of one "primary" member from each of the 14 damage prevention stakeholder groups. The primary members must be registered CGA members and are appointed by the stakeholder representative on the CGA Board. Primary members of committees are expected to participate in all committee meetings and activities. All committee members are responsible for all of their individual expenses incurred while doing committee business, i.e., travel, lodging, and meals. All APWA members are encouraged to join the CGA and are welcome to participate in committee meetings even if they are not primary members.

In addition to APWA's participation and representation as a primary stakeholder for public works, one-call centers and the OCSI are represented as well. Ron Olitsky, chair of One-Call Systems International, also represents the Underground Safety Institute. A number of OCSI members serve as primary participants in the five CGA working committees.

How can I become a member of CGA?
Anyone interested in learning more about the CGA or becoming a member of the Common Ground Alliance should contact the following:

How can I become a member of a working committee?
Noel Thompson, Executive Administrator, City of Louisville (KY), Department of Public Works has been appointed as the Public Works Primary Member on the Educational Programs Committee. The Public Works Primary Member positions still vacant are on the Best Practices Committee; the Data Reporting and Evaluation Committee; the Marketing, Membership and Communication Committee; and the Research and Development Committee. Should you choose to serve as a primary member, the CGA expects you to participate in all meetings. Again, you will be responsible for all individual expenses incurred while doing committee business, i.e., travel, lodging and meals.

Primary members of the working groups representing OCSI are: Public Education-Claudette Campbell (Executive Director, UPC Inc, Duluth, Georgia); Best Practices-Tom Jackson (Manager of DOT and Joint Use, Georgia Power Company, Atlanta); Data Reporting and Evaluation-J. D. Maniscalco (Executive Director, Utility Notification Center of Colorado, Lakewood); Marketing, Membership and Communication-Don Evans (Executive Administrator, Operating Committee-UULC, Renton, Washington); and Research and Development-Sandy Holmes (Executive Director, Arizona Blue Stake, Tempe, Arizona).

Anyone interested in becoming a member of one of the five working committees representing public works should contact Leonard Krumm, APWA's Common Ground Alliance Board Member, at (612) 379-8805 or lak@cnaengineers.com for more information. The five working committees are described in the accompanying sidebar.

Leonard Krumm, an active member of APWA, is the former Chair of the Utility and Public Right-of-Way Committee and the Common Ground Alliance Board Member representing the Public Works Stakeholder Group. He is a recognized expert in the field of right-of-way management and is a frequent lecturer and expert witness in R/W management issues.

Krumm is the former Director of Field Services for the City of Minneapolis Public Works Department. His Division was responsible for the construction and maintenance of streets, alleys, sidewalks, bridges, retaining walls, storm drains, sanitary sewers, tunnels and green spaces in the public right-of-way. Related services include testing construction materials, inspecting construction projects, resolving the Public Works Department's environmental problems, and managing the City's Right-of-Way Management program.

After 31 years of service, Krumm recently retired from the City of Minneapolis. He is employed as a Senior Consultant by CNA Consulting Engineers. The firm provides professional engineering services to the underground construction and mining industry in the area of geotechnical, geostructural, civil, structural, and construction engineering. In addition to public rights-of-way management issues, Krumm specializes in the management and engineering of urban construction projects.

Common Ground Alliance Stakeholders:

Primary Stakeholder

Category Representative Stakeholder Group(s)
Electric Alan Yonkman Edison Electric Group
    Power Institute
Equipment Manufacturer Scott Pollman Equipment Manufacturers Institute
Engineer/Designer John Robertson American Society of Civil Engineers
    American Consulting Engineers Council
Excavator Jim Barron National Utility Contractors Association
    Land Improvement Contractors Association
Gas Paul Preketes Institute of Natural Gas Association
    American Gas Association
    American Public Gas Association
    Gas Technology Institute
Insurance James Bush Insurance Industry
Locator Dan Bradley National Utility Locating Contractors Assoc.
Oil Vic Yarborough American Petroleum Institute
    Association of Oil Pipe Lines
One-Call Ron Olitsky One-Call Systems International
    Underground Safety Institute
Private Water No Representative No Designated Stakeholder Group
Public Works Leonard Krumm American Public Works Association
Railroad Charles Determan Association of American Railroads
Road Builders Victor Weston American Road and Transportation Builders Association
    Associated General Contractors of America
State Regulators Open National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives
    National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
    International Fire Marshals Association
Telecommunications P.J. Aduskevicz Facilities Solution Team
    National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council

CGA Committee Descriptions

The CGA Best Practices Committee will focus on efforts to add to the Best Practices currently identified in the Common Ground Study Report to incorporate new developments in damage prevention processes, procedures, practices, and technology; gauge current levels of implementation; and encourage and promote increased implementation of the Best Practices.

The CGA Data and Reporting Evaluation Committee will look at currently available damage data, the gaps where additional data reporting and evaluation are needed, and how such data for various underground infrastructure components can best be gathered and disseminated.

The CGA Educational Programs Committee will look at existing damage prevention education programs to identify opportunities where the CGA can have significant impact in furthering the reach and effectiveness of those programs. The committee will also evaluate aspects of existing damage prevention programs to determine if there are areas where additional emphasis is needed.

The CGA Marketing, Membership & Communications Committee will look at various opportunities and needs for promoting the organization to increase sponsorship and membership. The Committee will also look at opportunities for obtaining outside funds such as grants to promote the development of the organization. Communication opportunities and methods will be evaluated to ensure the CGA is effectively communicating with its members, sponsors, and all other stakeholders.

The CGA Research & Development Committee will seek to identify damage prevention needs and challenges, promote and foster R&D opportunities that enhance damage prevention, and identify opportunities to disseminate information to all stakeholders.