Hancock County supervisors and some of about two dozen members of the public on Nov. 15 directed drainage districts comments and questions to Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed Carbon Express pipeline representatives Grant Terry and Walter Siegford in Garner.
Terry is the senior project manager, who will oversee all pipeline construction. He has hands-on experience from initial estimates to mechanical completion of large diameter, long haul liquid pipelines for SCS. Siegford is an in-house construction manager.
Terry cited his extensive experience on a similar project in Texas recently and a good working relationship with local government officials and landowners there.
“Drainage is a very vital part of our farming community,” chair Gary Rayhons said. “Without drainage, we’re up a creek. There are a lot of people that have invested a lot of money in this and don’t want to see it messed up.”
Supervisor Sis Greiman, after comments about how pipeline companies are notorious for creating post-construction problems, suggested that areas further south do not have as many intricate drainage districts as Hancock County. She noted how any number of indirect issues can arise when district facilities are altered, as did several landowners.
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“I’m curious to know how we can know the problems that are going to be there after your construction,” Greiman said.
An unidentified landowner cited a gully where excess water from his fields flows to after heavy rains. He said if the pipeline comes across his farm and creates another ditch, it won’t all go to the gully anymore, and his equipment could later be broken because of SCS’s hole.
Terry said if that were the case, the landowner would be compensated. He cited an incident where a farmer struck a piece of wood that was buried in his last project, damaging equipment.
“We ended up paying for that entire piece of equipment,” Terry said.
Supervisors noted their need to stay abreast of all aspects of the proposed pipeline project and to be actively involved throughout the process.
Terry said the company plans to submit its permit application to the Iowa Utilities Board in January 2022 and that the IUB’s permit process typically takes at least 12-16 months. He noted that eminent domain requests could also be included in the IUB’s decision in the docket, for properties where no easement agreement can be reached with landowners.
A public evidentiary hearing would be held after a proper petition is filed and reviewed by the IUB. It would be held in the county seat of the county located at the midpoint of the proposed pipeline. Later, pending permit approval, if landowners and the company cannot reach agreement on damage claims, those matters would go before a compensation commission to be formed by the county.
Terry said he does not anticipate the pipeline route changing much based on the current map projections, which takes it east and west across Hancock County just into the southern half of the county.
“Our route is not changing too much for right now,” Terry said. “It’s lots of small changes. We’re kind of past the point of big changes. It’s all pretty minor right now.”
Terry confirmed the pipeline will be trenched through the state with Iowa land restoration standards being followed. Rayhons said that Iowa has wet years and asked how trenching work proceeds when there is excess standing water. Siegford said that different machinery, specially designed for wetter conditions, is used.
“County inspectors have full control over the work conditions and whether we can work or not that day,” Terry said. “So, if it is too wet to work, we’re not going to work.”
“A lack of communication to our board is our biggest concern,” Rayhons said. “We are the ones taking the heat and taking the calls. We will work on a resolution for crossing our (drainage) districts. If you’re going to cross our districts, we’re going to dig our heels in and make sure this is done right.”
Several members of the public, and supervisor Greiman, said they do not see how a pipeline that is classified as hazardous liquid, which is not a traditional oil or gas line and is being proposed by a private company could be in the public interest.
They also said disturbance of drainage district facilities, farmland and farm tiles is an anticipated consequence. One commenter recommended hauling the captured carbon from ethanol plants via trucking instead of proceeding with the proposed line.
Hancock County Engineer Jeremy Purvis said that the secondary roads department needs to know specifically where roads would be crossed by the line. Terry said the road crossings are high on the to-do list and will be addressed soon by company officials.
“Moving forward this board needs to be aware of everything that’s going on,” Rayhons said. “We cannot inform our residents about things on which we are left in the dark. This is going to have an environmental impact on our county. You’re going to learn a lot about drainage if this proceeds here.”
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.