The Fayetteville Public Works Commission identified the man as James (J.W.) Ivey, a water resources crew leader and 13-year employee.
The excavator was pulled from the water but Ivey was not inside. Divers located his body.
"J.W. was a long-time dedicated employee and this is a tremendous loss to the PWC family," said PWC CEO/General Manager David Trego. "This loss reminds us of the extremely dangerous conditions our employees face every day and why safety is our top concern. All of PWC has J.W.'s family and friends in our thoughts and prayers."
Witnesses told ABC11 that work was being done on sewer lines damaged by Hurricane Matthew when the accident happened.
OSHA is doing an assessment for their separate investigation. Preliminary information shows Ivey was operating a skid steer loader near a creek. The bank collapsed under the skid steer loader and slid into the water and overturned, OSHA determined.