When on-the-ground survey work begins for a pipeline project, survey crews survey collect important data and assess environmental, geological, and archeological conditions. This process also includes considerable interaction with property owners along the proposed route so that their concerns can be assessed and, in many cases, become part of route plan modifications.
Generally, environmental field studies cause little or no disruption to landowners. Field crews will walk the pipeline study corridor and in some cases they may need to dig small holes or leave small stakes behind.
Acquiring Easements or Rights of Way
It is possible that in some areas Williams will need to expand a pipeline’s existing permanent easement. In addition, during construction temporary workspace adjacent to the permanent easement will likely be needed. All temporary workspace will be returned to the landowner after construction and restoration for his or her full use.
If you are or may be affected by construction, a Williams representative will meet with you to make certain the job is performed with the least possible impact to you or the environment. Our land representatives will be available before, during and after the project to discuss any special concerns you may have.
Steps for Acquiring Rights of Way (Easements):
Up front information
Williams representatives begin the process by contacting each landowner to request permission to survey and stake the preliminary route for environmental, engineering and construction evaluations. The goal is for all landowners to understand all proposed features of the pipeline, including the alignment, underground depth, pipe size, temporary and permanent width of the easement, and aboveground equipment prior to construction. A Construction Stipulation Agreement may be used to specify special requirements, which are mutually agreed upon.
Fair compensation to landowners
Williams is committed to dealing fairly with each landowner and paying each landowner for two things:A fair value, based upon market value principles and number of acres needed, for the privilege of establishing a permanent easement across their land. Williams will obtain a permanent easement, but the landowner retains ownership and use of the land. Damages to crops, grazing lands, timber or any structures directly caused by the construction and maintenance of the pipeline. Construction damages will be paid on the area affected by the actual construction. The settlement for damages to crops either can be paid in advance, based on records of local yields or can be paid after construction, based on the actual crop losses.
Prompt payment to landowners
After the conditions and the amount of compensation for an easement are reached, and the easement agreement is executed, a check will be issued to the landowner.
Advance notice of construction activities
Williams representatives will advise the landowner and tenant (if present) regarding the actual timing of construction, as far in advance as possible. This allows the landowner or tenant to schedule farming or other activities in ways that minimize problems for both parties.
Respect for ownership
The Landowner retains ownership of land. The easement (for right of way) only gives Williams the right to construct, maintain and operate a pipeline. Use of the land, with certain limitations, can remain the same as before construction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I be notified if the proposed pipeline might affect my property?
Yes. Landowners whose property may be affected by the proposed route will be contacted by a Williams land representative requesting permission for company representatives to conduct various surveys on their property. All potentially affected landowners will receive information from FERC and from Williams advising that their property may be affected by the pipeline project. It will also include the dates and locations of public meetings and instructions for obtaining more information.
What is the purpose of pipeline surveys?
Ground surveys are a preliminary first step in gathering critical information that can be used in developing a pipeline proposal. The process of conducting these surveys involves several steps. Generally, each property will be visited by various specialists in land, engineering and environmental sciences. These may or may not be concurrent visits but should not last longer than one or two days each. Some properties may need to be revisited to obtain additional data. All information collected will be used to help us determine the location of the proposed pipeline facilities. Nothing will be removed from your property without your permission. Vehicular traffic will be confined to existing roads and access ways. After the survey teams are finished, you may see survey stakes and/or ribbon tied to fences or vegetation. These markers are necessary to maintain a line of sight for the areas that have been surveyed. In areas where brush or tall grass is encountered, crews may need to cut some of this vegetation to maintain the line of sight. Some minor surface disturbance may be required with hand tools to collect soil samples. Our survey crews will take every precaution to ensure no damage to your property or disruption of your daily activities will occur.
Who decides if the pipeline project gets built?
Interstate natural gas pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As such, FERC requires operators to obtain a federal Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, in addition to various state and local permits, before any pipeline facilities can be built.
How long does the process take?
Depending on the size of the project, the federal review and time needed for pipeline construction can vary.
What is an easement?
An easement is a limited right to use the land for specific purposes. Williams will compensate the landowner for the right to construct, operate and maintain an underground pipeline (and, in limited cases, aboveground equipment related to the pipeline such as valves, and cathodic protection sites).
What is a right-of-way agreement?
A right-of-way agreement allows for the use of a portion of your land for locating our pipeline. Landowners are offered financial compensation in exchange for granting a permanent easement. A contract for a right-of-way is a standard easement agreement, but can be tailored if necessary to meet a landowner’s unique concerns.
How will the value of the easement be determined?
The valuation of the easement will be determined by the market value of land in the area as determined by independent sources such as county deed and tax records, local appraisers, real estate brokers and other real estate professionals, considering such factors as length, width, existing use and comparable land sales in the area. Impact to the remaining property may also be considered. This information will be shared with the landowner and fair compensation will be offered.
Will I still own the land? Can I still use it?
It is important to note that an easement does not transfer title of the land; it merely grants the right to use the land for the specific purposes stated in the easement agreement. After construction of the pipeline, most uses of the surface of the land will be permitted, including farming activities such as crop production or raising livestock. Two notable exceptions include planting trees within the easement or placing a permanent structure within the easement, both of which are prohibited.
What will the presence of the pipeline do to my property values?
Historically speaking, natural gas pipeline easements have had little or no effect on property values.
Am I going to see bulldozers and pick-up trucks driving all over my land?
All construction activities will be restricted to the right-of-way and temporary workspace areas granted during the negotiations. Only those roads agreed to in advance will be used by the construction crews.
How will the pipeline affect land drainage?
The right-of-way will be graded after construction to allow normal water drainage. All drainages will be returned to their original patterns. The right-of-way may be terraced, seeded, mulched or otherwise stabilized to prevent erosion.
What precautions will be taken to prevent the subsoil from mixing with the topsoil?
Topsoil will be excavated and segregated into separate stockpiles to allow for the re-establishment of the original soil profile. In agricultural fields, hayfields or other fields used for crops, the top 12 inches of topsoil will be segregated into a separate stockpile. In places that have less than 12 inches of topsoil, all of it will be removed and stored separately. Once construction is complete, the subsoil will be placed into the trench first, followed by the topsoil.
How can I get natural gas service?
This pipeline is used for transporting natural gas to market areas where it can be distributed by local distribution companies or used as fuel in power generation facilities. Contact your local gas utility company to ask about natural gas service.