Pipeline Safety & ROW Protection

A right of way (ROW) is secured from a landowner, utility or other government entity through an “easement agreement,” which provides the right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. This agreement governs the activities permitted by both the landowner and the pipeline operator.

When discussing pipeline safety you will often hear the term “right of way” used when talking about easements. Not all right of ways are the same size. Some are “defined” with specific sizes and boundaries, while others are undefined. There are many factors that determine the width of a ROW, including the number of pipelines located within the ROW, the size of the pipeline, and the wishes of the landowner, the pipeline operator or influences from state statutes and decisions made by regulatory agencies.

While exact terms vary, it is typical for an easement agreement to contain certain restrictions for the use of the ROW. “Encroachment” is a term that refers to the unauthorized use of a right of way in violation of the terms by which the right of way was established.

Public safety is of the utmost importance to pipeline companies. As part of ongoing maintenance programs, it is occasionally necessary for a pipeline company to trim or remove trees, shrubs and other structures located on both private and public property within the pipeline ROW. Pipeline companies do this to visually monitor and maintain access to the pipeline. This ensures the integrity of both the pipeline and the environment.

Managing and Protecting the Right of Way is Key:

    • It provides easy access to the facility if an emergency situation occurs
    • It keeps the area clear for routine pipeline monitoring and maintenance

Examples of ROW Encroachment Include:
— Building fences or other structures such as sheds or barns – either permanent or temporary
— Pouring a driveway
— Adding a swimming pool or sprinkler system
— Storage of vehicles and flammable materials or equipment
— Major landscaping activities: adding trees and shrubs, planting a garden and removing tree stumps

As a public official…

You may be involved with general planning, zoning and land-use decisions that impact pipeline ROWs. Educated decisions and proper planning ensure the safe, efficient and reliable delivery of energy resources and other utility services to your residents, businesses and communities.

Always contact 811 before you dig. Dial 811 or visit www.call811.com