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.
Most of the ROWs on private property used by NW Natural are easements granted by either the present or former landowners. They are formal agreements granting the ROWs in perpetuity to NW Natural. A change in ownership of the property does not alter the agreement.
The ROW agreement identifies what may be done within the ROW boundaries and protects the interest of both the property owner and NW Natural.
If you do not have a copy of your ROW 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 ROW 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 ROWs 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 ROW identification programs, including:
- Installation and maintenance of pipeline location markers
- A list of owners and their properties crossed by these ROWs
Using the ROW
It is important that each individual landowner knows 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 811 in Oregon and Washington. By law, homeowners and contractors must 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
- 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 ROWs use. If you plan to use the NW Natural gas pipeline ROWs through your property for any purpose other than flower beds, vegetable gardens, lawns or low shrubbery, please check first with: Risk and Land Management.
250 SW Taylor Street
Portland, OR 97204
If the proposed activities are deemed to have no adverse impact, NW Natural will respond with a letter granting approval.