What is a pipeline Right of Way (ROW)?
A pipeline ROW refers to the land that surrounds a natural gas pipeline. ROWs give natural gas companies the space they need to inspect, test, repair and maintain their pipelines, the majority of which are buried underground in rural areas. In most cases, the ROW extends several feet from each side of the pipeline, unless special circumstances apply. ROW corridors are designated by brightly colored, highly visible pipeline markers.
What is an easement?
To establish an ROW, the natural gas company signs a formal, written agreement with the property owner. This agreement—also called an easement—is usually on file with the county or state’s public records department. It gives the natural gas company permission to construct and maintain an ROW on private property.
Easements do not constitute property transfers—the landowner retains possession of his or her property even after signing. If the property is sold, the rights and obligations of the easement are automatically transferred to the new owner. Pipeline companies—not property owners—maintain and regularly inspect their ROWs.
There’s an ROW on my property, but the easement was signed by the previous owner. How can I learn more?
If you’re unsure about an ROW on your land or wish to obtain a copy of an easement, contact your local Land Titles Office or call the phone number listed on the pipeline marker.
Can I build or dig on an ROW?
By law, you MUST contact the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at 8-1-1, at least two working days before digging on or near an ROW. A representative from the appropriate natural gas company will then come out to the site and measure and mark the pipelines for you. This regulation applies to smaller landscape and construction projects too, including digging fence post holes, anchoring supports for decks and swing sets, planting trees, removing tree roots and driving landscaping stakes into the ground.
Calling OUPS before you dig is the only way to determine the approximate location of a pipeline. Some people assume they can pinpoint a pipeline’s location simply by drawing a straight line between two or more ROW pipeline markers. These markers, however, do not indicate the depth of the pipeline and are not always located precisely over a line. A pipeline may curve or twist underground to avoid natural and/or manmade objects, such as tree roots or television cable. For more information about OUPS and marking lines click here.
What if I suspect unauthorized activity on a ROW?
Contact the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker. If no name is listed, call 9-1-1. Unauthorized digging is the most common cause of natural gas leaks—and the most preventable. By reporting suspicious digging or activity, you can help keep your fellow community members and the environment safe.
How do natural gas companies keep ROWs safe?
Natural gas companies work hard to protect their pipelines from natural hazards and third-party damage. In addition to installing highly visible pipeline markers, many companies perform aerial, ground and marine inspections of their ROWs; conduct leak surveys; and install sophisticated leak detection equipment.
YOU can help by knowing the signs of a natural gas leak:
SMELL — To help you SMELL a leak from a gas line or appliance, a familiar odor like rotten eggs is often added to natural gas.
SEE — Near a gas leak, you might SEE blowing dirt, bubbling water or an unusual area of dead vegetation.
HEAR — A leaking pipeline might make a hissing sound you can HEAR.
If you recognize even one of the above signs, walk away, right away. When you’re clear of the area, call your local natural gas company and 9-1-1 for emergency response.