What are Wet Spots?
When a property is known to be wet (or have wet spots) it needs to be dealt with specially. This issue is not to be confused with wetlands, which require substantially different treatment. When a property is simply muddy, the heavy construction equipment can sink. This is bad news for you because it can cause more damage to your property than necessary. It’s bad news for the pipeline company because it can damage their equipment and delay the project (and time is money).
My Land is usually pretty wet – can a pipeline company even utilize it?
Yes. To avoid sinking into wet areas, the company may ‘board in.’ This means that they will construct a boardwalk using heavy grade lumber which is connected by metal chains. The sections of boardwalk are brought in via flatbed truck. The sections are roughly ten feet wide by fifteen feet long, but can vary. They are stretched out over the ROW, in any wet areas, alongside where the trench will be (never on top of the trench). The company will utilize the boardwalk as their ‘road’ to operate their equipment. In the picture below you can see the boardwalk in the foreground. On this particular property, the pipeline company set three boardwalks side-by-side. If you look in the background you will not see any boardwalks. This is where the trench will ultimately be dug.
Pipeline installation requiring a simple “boardwalk.”
Pipeline installation requiring a more extensive boardwalk. The trench will be dug on the right.
The following picture shows a close up of where the trench will go (left of the pipeline). At one time there was a boardwalk here, to allow the company access to the forested area in the background for timber removal. Once the timber was removed, the boardwalk was removed to allow for the digging of the trench.
A pipeline right of way with its boardwalk removed – it had been to the left of the pipes
What affect will a pipeline boardwalk have on my land?
Typically they do not remove the topsoil prior to setting the boardwalk. Your topsoil should not be negatively impacted because the boardwalk is protecting it. That being said, a careful inspection is required after the boardwalk is removed. They may need to fill in ruts with new topsoil, smooth out the surface and reseed grass. The cleanup (reclamation) process used should be outlined in advance in your pipeline paperwork. Make sure to notify your attorney if you have any low-lying areas or known wet spots on your property.
About Molly Phillips
MOLLY PHILLIPS earned her law degree from University of Akron School of Law. Her primary practice consists of reviewing oil and gas related contracts. Molly also litigates oil and gas law cases. Past litigation topics include dormant minerals law and lease breaking.