Transcript Slide 1

Planning Zones to Protect People Near Pipelines

Chuck Lesniak City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

The Issue

The Issue


The PIPA Committee Challenge Federal law limits the authority of cities to regulate pipelines –

How do you protect the public and the environment?

– – –

Provide developer flexibility?

Provide for the needs of transmission pipelines?

What can a City actually do within it’s authority?


Setbacks vs. planning “zones” Setbacks considered, but no consensus within PIPA Committee settled on planning zones as recommended best practice

What is a Planning Zone?

Planning Area

An area surrounding a transmission pipeline … based on characteristics of the pipeline and the area surrounding the pipeline. … to protect communities where new development is planned near transmission pipelines. A planning area can provide for the application of additional development regulations, standards, or guidelines to ensure safety when development occurs in close proximity to a transmission pipeline.

What is a Planning Zone?

Consultation Zone

An area extending from each side of a transmission pipeline, … to describe when a property developer/owner, … should initiate a dialogue with a transmission pipeline operator.

How Big?

• Varies depending on the pipeline and the land under consideration • Suggested default is 660’ for gas and 660 1,000’ for hazardous liquids

Planning Zone

PIPA Planning Zone Components • Information - Proposed use, pipeline characteristics, land characteristics, recorded easements • Coordination – Between local gov’t., developer, pipeline operator • Conditional land use – Limit certain higher risk land uses, encourage low risk uses, e.g. parking lots, trails, WQ ponds etc.

• Design – Site layout, structural features, structure orientation, emergency access, etc.

• Record – Easements, restrictions

One City’s Approach

Austin’s Ordinance • Hazardous liquids lines >/= 8” diameter • Focus on public safety, not protecting structures – Difficult to evacuate populations (hospitals, schools, daycare, etc) prohibited within 500’ – No ROW allowed in residential lot < 1 acre – Buildings within 200’ of ROW must:  Provide 1-hour evacuation time; and  Early leak detection system (if commercially available)

Planning Zone Example


Austin’s Transmission Pipelines

Austin’s Pipeline Ordinance

Longhorn Pipeline

Austin’s Pipeline Ordinance

Mobile Home Lots