An Important Message About Gas Pipeline Safety
Pipeline Purpose and Reliability
The U. S. relies on natural gas for nearly one fourth of its energy. Natural gas is clean, convenient, and efficient, which makes it the country’s most popular home heating fuel. Each day, underground pipelines carry natural gas safely and efficiently to millions of homes and businesses across the U.S. Natural gas is used to heat homes, businesses, water, cook meals, for many industrial processes, and as fuels for vehicles and electric power generation. In our community, underground pipelines provide natural gas service to Watertown Municipal Utilities Department. Watertown Municipal Utilities Department operates a safe and efficient pipeline distribution network of mains, services, and meters. Natural gas is purchased from BP Canada Energy Marketing at the city’s gate station. It is then distributed through main and service lines to your gas meter and into your home or business.
The pipeline transportation system in the U.S. is one of the safest and most efficient means of transporting energy products. The National Transportation Safety board has found that pipelines provide the highest level of public safety as compared to other transportation modes. Pipelines have fewer accidents causing personal injury than any other form of transportation, such as trucks, railroads, ships, and airplanes. In addition, pipeline operators are extensively regulated by Federal and State regulations with regard to design, construction, operation, and maintenance.
Safety is the number-one priority of the natural gas industry. At Watertown Municipal Utilities Department our main goal is to deliver natural gas reliably and safely to you, our customer. In doing so, we want you to know what to do if you ever smell gas or if a natural gas pipeline emergency occurs where you live or work.
Right-Of-Way (ROW) Encroachment Prevention
Pipeline right-of-ways enable workers to gain access for inspection, maintenance, testing or emergencies. Pipeline right-of-ways must be kept free from structures and other obstructions. If a pipeline crosses your property, please do not plant trees or high shrubs on the ROW. Also, do not dig, store, or place anything on or near the ROW without first having Watertown Municipal Utilities Department personnel mark the pipeline, stake the ROW, and explain the utility construction guidelines to you.
Pipeline Location Information
Pipeline markers – natural gas pipelines will sometimes be marked with signs. Since pipelines are buried underground, the markers are used to indicate the pipeline’s approximate location. The signs generally will be located at major roadway and railroad crossings and at intervals along major roadways. Information on the sign includes the telephone number for reporting pipeline emergencies to the appropriate agency/company.
Are pipeline markers and signs always placed on top of the pipeline? Not always. Markers indicate the general location of the pipeline. They cannot be relied upon to indicate the exact location of the pipeline they mark, the depth of the pipeline, or the number of pipelines in the vicinity.
Customer Owned Piping
As a customer, the portion of buried piping that you own, in most cases, is that segment of the gas line on your side of the gas meter. Many customers do not own any buried gas piping. Some examples of customer owned gas piping are:
- Piping to a barbecue grill
- Piping to a gas yard light
- Piping to a garage
- Piping to a swimming pool heater
Watertown Municipal Utilities Department complies with the United States Department of Transportation order that requires us to notify customers who may own buried natural gas piping not maintained by Watertown Municipal Utilities Department. You, as customers, are responsible for maintaining that specific piping. “Maintain” means to monitor buried piping for corrosion and leakage. If corrosion or leaks are found, shut off the flow of gas.
Customers should have a qualified, professional plumber or heating contractor assist you with locating and inspecting your buried gas piping. Customer buried piping, not owned by Watertown Municipal Utilities Department, should be replaced if any leaks or unsafe conditions are discovered.
For further information:
Watertown Municipal Utilities Department
901 Fourth Avenue SW
Watertown, SD 57201