Pipeline Rights-of-Way (ROW)

Learn about the requirements for pipeline rights-of-way.

The purpose of this section is to provide information about pipeline rights-of-way and the types of uses that are permitted on them. It will be of interest to those with existing rights-of-way on their property, as well as to realtors, planners, engineers, land surveyors and others involved in land development.

Pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) are strips of land, up to 60 feet in width, in which natural gas pipelines are installed. These pipelines range in size up to 20 inches in diameter and transport natural gas at pressures of up to 875 pounds per square inch (psi). To identify the location of buried pipelines within the rights-of-way, distinctive marker posts are placed in the ground at intervals above the centerline of the pipeline, or as close as possible.

ROW agreement

Most of the rights-of-way on private property used by NW Natural are easements granted by either the present or former landowners. They are formal agreements granting the rights-of-way in perpetuity to NW Natural. A change in ownership of the property does not alter the agreement.

The rights-of-way agreement identifies what may be done within the rights-of-way boundaries and protects the interest of both the property owner and NW Natural.

If you do not have a copy of your rights-of-way agreement, one can be obtained from the Deed of Records Department at your local county courthouse.

ROW care and control

In the interest of public safety, care of pipeline rights-of-way is ongoing. NW Natural follows a variety of procedures, including frequent inspection and a regular brush clearing program to minimize the risk of hazardous action by others. Damage to a gas pipeline could result in serious property damage and personal injuries.

Pipeline ROW are inspected regularly. Foot patrols require access to check rights-of-way conditions, to test for potential leaks, to install and maintain markers and signs, to examine the corrosion protection system and to clear brush to keep the rights-of-way accessible. In addition, pipeline ROW are patrolled by air to monitor use and activities and to locate areas that may require maintenance.

NW Natural has pipeline and rights-of-way identification programs including:

  • Installation and maintenance of pipeline location markers
  • A list of owners and their properties crossed by these rights-of-way

Using of the ROW

It is important that each individual landowner know what specific uses are granted under the ROW agreements. Uses of ROW are regulated in order to:

  • Ensure the safety of the public and security of gas supply
  • Ensure that ROW and pipelines are clearly defined
  • Prevent hindrance to routine inspections and maintenance
  • Enable crews to undertake emergency repairs quickly, thereby reducing exposure of the public to a potential hazard
  • Ensure a possible location for a future pipeline

Generally acceptable uses:

  • Raising certain crops
  • Flower beds, vegetable gardens, lawns, low shrubbery
  • Livestock grazing
  • Hiking and horseback trails
  • Sports and game fields, parks, golf courses (subject to limits on re-grading, landscaping, or paving, and on installation of structures such as exercise equipment, goal posts and backstops)

As a general reminder, before you dig more than a foot deep, call the Utilities Notification Center at 800-332-2344 in Oregon and 800-424-5555 in Washington. Law requires homeowners and contractors to call the Utilities Notification Center two business days before digging begins. The participating utilities will send specialists to locate and mark your underground lines at no charge to you.

Uses of the ROW that are not allowed:

  • Buildings, structures or foundations, overhanging roofs and balconies, garden sheds, patios, concrete slabs, signs, swimming pools
  • Wells or other boreholes
  • Pile-driving
  • Blasting
  • Storage of flammable materials, equipment, bulk goods and vehicles
  • Parallel or tapering encroachment by roads or other utilities
  • Burning of such materials as waste, scrap lumber and slash

The above list is a guide and not intended to be all inclusive.

Uses requiring written permission:

  • Any activity requiring excavation
  • All crossings such as an underground utilities, roads and driveways, and drainage ditches
  • Paving or parking on a long-term basis
  • Installation of posts or fences
  • Changes to depth of soil over the pipeline
  • Land development
  • Logging operations

Keep yourself safe, contact NW Natural first

Please remember that there are good reasons for controlling rights-of-way use. If you plan to use the NW Natural gas pipeline rights-of-way through your property for any purpose other than flower beds, vegetable gardens, lawns or low shrubbery, please check first with: RISK & LAND MANAGEMENT

NW Natural
220 NW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97209

If the proposed activities are deemed to have no adverse impact, NW Natural will respond with a letter granting approval.