Erosion from a Cross-Country Natural Gas Pipeline Corridor: The Critical First Year

Pamela J Edwards, Bridget M. Harrison, Karl W.J. Williard, Jon E. Schoonover

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Abstract

Sediment losses as concentrations and yields were measured for a year from 12 segments of a newly constructed (buried) natural gas pipeline on the US Forest Service’s Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia. Pipeline segments were separated by waterbars which served as drainage features. Six segments were northwest-facing, and six were southeast-facing. Three segments on each aspect were seeded with warm season native herbaceous species at rates used by the Forest Service (1×). All remaining segments received seeding at three times that rate (3×). Forest Service-established rates of fertilizer, lime, and straw mulch were applied to all segments. Sediment concentrations and yields generally were highest at the start of the study, respectively, averaging approximately 1660 mg L−1 and 340 kg ha−1 during the first 3 months following completion of corridor reclamation, but they were less than from nearby less-steep forest road corridors. Concentrations and yields fell significantly after the first 3 months; declines were attributed to revegetation on the ROW. At the end of the first growing season, vegetative cover on all segments ranged from 55 to 79%, with no differences between seeding rates. Mean runoff was significantly higher on the northwest-facing segments than on the southeast-facing segments, but runoff volumes did not decrease on either aspect in concert with loadings or concentrations. Higher runoff on the northwest-facing segments may have been due to clay-skinned peds in subsurface soil that limited vertical drainage. Even with a heavy straw mulch cover on the right-of-way, the timing of the highest sediment losses immediately following pipeline construction suggests that implementation of additional surface-protection best management practices could be beneficial until vegetation is reestablished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Volume228
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution

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