County adopts policy for natural gas pipeline road crossings

After earlier rescinding permission for Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline to cross county roads, the Hays County Commissioners Court on April 29 laid out the conditions the company will have to meet for permission to be restored.

According to the new policy, Kinder Morgan will, before any utility permit is issued, present a geological analysis “with particular focus on the presence of karst and/or aquifer features” that details “whether Kinder Morgan believes karst features exists and explains the basis of their decision.”

If a karst feature is associated with any of the three county roads remaining in the pipeline’s path, the company
will have to “create a plan to ensure that their activities will not negatively impact the karst features or groundwater quality.”

Commissioners rescinded the road crossing permits after a contractor attempting to bore under the Blanco River in Blanco County hit a karst feature in late March. That sent tens of thousands of gallons of drilling mud and fluid
into the Trinity Aquifer and fouled nearby residential water wells.

Kinder Morgan will be required to notify the county’s Director of Transportation and all residential well owners within a two-mile radius by certified mail five days prior to boring, and mitigation plans must be submitted in advance to the Texas Railroad Commission.

Should there be a change of water quality or water quantity following a bore, the policy dictates that water samples be taken and analyzed by either the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District or the Hays Trinity Conservation District, paid for by Kinder Morgan (which can also retain its own water quality experts).

Kinder Morgan has downplayed the county’s action regarding the permits. Vice President Allen Fore told the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch he has been in contact with the Transportation Department as well as Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell and Precinct 4 Commissioner Walt Smith and will continue to work with them.

Two county road crossings east of Interstate 35 have been completed. The roads yet to be crossed, all in Western Hays County, are CR 218 at Pump Station Road, CR 220 at Mt. Sharp Road and CR 244 at Ledgerock Road.

The county’s actions don’t impede Kinder Morgan’s crossing of state or federal highways like I-35.

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