As in traditional pipeline or utility construction projects, there are numerous federal, state, and local agencies that may be involved in HDD crossings. Large projects or projects on federal land typically require a lead agency to coordinate the permit-application process and to monitor construction compliance with the applicable permits. The U.S, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission may act as lead agencies. HDD projects on private or state property are often regulated by the state's Public Utility Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Department of Forestry. They usually enforce state regulations and may report to the federal agencies. The majority of the regulatory requirements are either environmentally driven or deal with right-of-way and encroachment issues.
While all construction projects are subject to environmental concerns, pipeline projects typically are subject to the greatest amount of regulation. The environmental issues that typically concern HDD include:
In contrast to the above, many utility projects do not have significant environmental issues, but they often locate the product pipe or cable within the local or state right of ways. Right-of-way and easement issues typically involve getting permission from the appropriate agency or individual to place the HDD product pipe in the easement or right of way. The owner or developer provides the appropriate agency with proposed HDD project information such as:
Many projects require that various environmental permits be obtained from the appropriate agency before construction begins. For environmentally sensitive (or potentially sensitive) HDD crossings an environmental permitting plan should be prepared. The plan is used to identify all the permitting requirements and provide a list of the required permits (for example, USAE NWP-12 for utility-line crossings), the time needed to prepare them, and an estimated date of issuance. Items that are typically considered in an environmental plan are solid and hazardous materials and waste management, wetlands, burial grounds, land use, air pollution, noise, water supply and discharge, traffic control, and river and railroad transportation.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAE) regulates activities involving interstate bodies of water, including marshes and tributaries, as well as intrastate waters that can affect interstate or foreign commerce. The organization is responsible for work affecting such waterways, including the headwaters of freshwater streams, wetlands, swamps, and lakes. The Regional District Engineer of the USAE will advise applicants about the types of permits required for proposed projects. In addition, state and/or local agency environmental review and permitting may be required. For railroad crossings, the engineering representative of the railroad should be consulted about the approved methods of crossing the line.
All HDD construction activities should be performed in accordance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) as regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as state and local requirements. The contractor should implement best management practices to ensure that any stormwater runoff is not contaminated by the sediment caused by land disturbances associated with the construction activities. The following seven goals are primary functions of effective stormwater-pollution prevention planning:
In addition to the overall goals stated above, the contractor should, at a minimum, implement the following specific practices:
Access to the project area is another factor that should be considered early in the planning phase. Many HDD crossings are in remote areas without immediate access to the project site. The cost of temporary and/or construction access easements can be costly. Usually the HDD equipment is required on both sides of the crossing. One way to minimize cost is to look for crossing locations with access to both sides from an improved road. Another option is to use the pipeline right-of-way for access to the HDD crossing. For most HDD project all required access agreements are provided by the owner.
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