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Pipeline clearing to begin in Webster County

By Staff | Aug 27, 2016

Webster County officials don’t have a firm timeline on when construction will begin on an oil pipeline in the county.

However, the pipeline company now has easements on all property it needs in Webster County for the route, including parcels taken by eminent domain, officials said Tuesday.

The 1,134-mile, $3.8 billion project is being built across North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois by Dallas-based Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners.

In Iowa, the pipeline will span 346 miles.

The pipeline will stretch about 19 miles diagonally across Webster County.

It will cross 23 county roads, passing just north of Gowrie and south of Harcourt.

There are reports that staking and mowing have begun hear Harcourt, Webster County Engineer Randy Will told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Will said he talked to a representative from Precision Pipeline, of Eau Claire, the contractor building this portion of the route.

“He was pretty guarded with his information,” Will said. “I don’t have an exact timetable or an exact date yet.”

The county’s haul road agreement with Dakota Access requires them to give the county 48 hours notice before doing any work that impacts the county’s right of way, Will said.

He hasn’t been given that notice yet.

The company also has a drainage agreement with the county.

I+S Group has been hired by the county, and paid for by Dakota Access, to oversee the work and protect county drainage property.

I+S Group will get official notifications when work is about to begin; they won’t come directly to the office of Drainage Clerk Doreen Pliner, she said.

But Pliner does get a spreadsheet every week showing a tentative construction schedule, which may change due to weather.

Pliner said the company expects to start working on Friday in Webster County on additional clearing and fencing operations. Boring under roads is just starting in Jasper and Story counties, but not yet in Boone, according to this schedule released Monday.

Dakota Access does not provide construction timeline specifics, said Dakota Access spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger.

Dillinger said early stages of construction activities are underway all throughout Iowa, including staking, grading, clearing, temporary road construction, and building of temporary fences and gates. It takes approximately 30 to 45 days to construct approximately 30 miles of pipe, not including restoration activities.

Eminent domain proceedings are finished on all property along the route in Webster County, Sheriff Jim Stubbs confirmed.

There were eight parcels to begin with, but four of them reached voluntary settlements with the company, Stubbs said. Four hearings were held for four different parcels.

The proceedings involve a compensation commission which meets to determine a fair value for the permanent easement taken by Dakota Access through eminent domain. The commission doesn’t address whether or not eminent domain should have been granted, which was already determined in April by the Iowa Utilities Board.

A lawsuit is ongoing in Polk County which seeks to challenge the company’s right to use eminent domain.

Will said he was told that Precision Pipeline has the contract for the spread from Jasper County to Cherokee County, and that he’s been told work will proceed from south to north.

Road signs are going up warning of upcoming pipeline construction as well- and not always following the proper procedure, Will said.

“A few days ago we had an issue with some signs being put up on county roads,” he said. “There’s a proper way to do it. … We’re trying to get that corrected.”

Road signs may go up well before work begins, Will said, because there’s a sign contractor putting up signs who might not necessarily coordinate with the construction crews.

“It’s a coordination situation, left hand, right hand, that sort of thing,” he said.

The final green light for construction was given on June 6 by the Iowa Utilities Board, after the pipeline permit was fully approved in April.

Dakota Access said it hopes to have the pipeline in service by the fourth quarter of this year.

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