July 22, 2020
Research into the Expanse and Value of Underground Assets

The Association of Australian Dial Before You Dig Services (AADBYDS) is the peak Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) entity for Australia and provides a free referral service to anyone planning to excavate to access information from Dial Before You Dig Members. Registered Members will provide users information usually in the form of plans about the presence of underground assets at the excavation site to ensure the protection of those assets from damage and/or disruption. The protection of this critical infrastructure assets sits at the heart of Dial Before You Dig’s vision of ‘zero harm, zero damage’.

For more than two decades DBYD has remained one of Australia’s most relevant and respected services prioritising worker safety and the protection of critical underground infrastructure which is why in 2016 AADBYDS commissioned BIS Oxford Economics (formerly BIS Shrapnel) to undertake three research projects:

  • Profile of the Australian locating industry; this included an industry size estimate, longevity and extent of locating operations, time spent on jobs, cost of locating services and other issues around legislation and non-commercial locators.
  • Member Feedback on Locating Services; an investigation into the perceptions and opinions of current DBYD Members, including potential future DBYD service offerings.
  • Identifying the expanse and value of Australia’s underground assets and the importance of protecting those assets from unnecessary damage.

In December 2019 AADBYDS again commissioned BIS Oxford Economics the latest project, which was an update of 2018 research identifying the expanse and value of underground assets.

Key Findings

The 2020 update by BIS Oxford Economics incorporated some new and improved data sources, which chronicles well for future tracking of underground assets. The key findings included the following:

  • The total length of underground assets across investigated segments is 794,525 km; this represents a 7.9% increase over the 2018 report.
  • Underground asset length peaks at 228,021 km in New South Wales (29%), followed by Victoria (192,156 km; 24%) and Queensland (147,594 km; 19%).
  • By segment, total kilometres range from a high 212,927 km (27%) for water pipes to 117,631 km (15%) for gas pipes.
  • The total value of underground assets in 2020 is estimated at $388 billion, up from $340 billion in 2018, on the back of increased length of assets and increased construction costs.
  • Water assets account for a high $161.3 billion or 41% of the total value, followed by sewerage ($91.9 billion; 24%) and electricity ($74.2 billion; 19%).
  • Of the total assets, $109.2 billion are located in New South Wales, $99.7 billion in Victoria and $74.6 billion across Queensland.
  • By states and segment, water assets in Victoria record the highest value at $49.6 billion.

The research by BIS Oxford Economics is the best available to quantify the $388 billion of utility assets (replacement cost) across the country and the data was collated on a state by state and utility basis. The need to protect essential services all Australians rely on and to safeguard Australia’s vast network of infrastructure assets is without question.

Dial Before You Dig is committed and continues to work alongside its Members and industry stakeholders facilitate infrastructure asset protection, damage prevention and reduction.

To read the full report click here.