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Specific erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, stream and wetland crossing, and other environmental requirements that apply to pipeline construction are provided in statutes, regulations, guidance documents, handbooks, and permit conditions.

In most cases, citizen observers will not have the kind of on-the-ground access to the pipeline corridor, access roads, and other infrastructure that would be required to fully evaluate compliance with environmental requirements. Citizens will mostly be restricted to observation of downstream effects and observation of construction sites from public road crossings, with few opportunities for other off-site observations from public or private land. Much of the earth disturbance associated with pipeline construction will be out-of-sight to citizen observers. Even so, downstream effects will be readily apparent, and limited but useful observation of construction activity may be possible.

Citizen reports concerning stream impacts and related construction noncompliance can be submitted to CSI Central. See Citizen Reporting Options.

CSI Central will follow-up on significant citizen reports by dispatching CSI Incident Response Teams to obtain aerial photography, water data, and other information to confirm and investigate reported problems. Information collected by the CSI Response Teams will be posted on the CSI Mapping System, made available to the public, and submitted to the responsible regulatory agencies in cases when noncompliance is confirmed or when it is evident that required control measures are incapable of preventing water resource harm.

The following summarizes some of the major stream impacts, noncompliance issues, or failures of control measures that may be evident to citizen observers.

Downstream and Stream Crossing Observations

When observing streams look in particular for indications of erosion and sedimentation, changes in runoff properties, or evidence of petroleum contamination. Many problems will be most evident during or shortly after rain or snowmelt.

Sediment plume, muddy water, or other discoloration

Stream sedimentation due to erosion and uncontrolled runoff from disturbed areas is the most likely water resource impact associated with pipeline construction.

Sediment deposits on streambed, stream bank, or adjacent areas

Sediment deposits, including silt, sand, and gravel, are often left behind when high flows recede, providing evidence of earlier sediment-laden runoff.

Stream bank erosion and undercutting

Changes in the frequency and magnitude of peak stream flows due to uncontrolled stormwater runoff can result in stream bank erosion and damage to aquatic habitat.

Equipment in streams

Equipment use in flowing streams results in streambed and stream bank erosion, downstream sedimentation, and potential petroleum contamination.

Oily film on water surface or petroleum smell

Surface water pollution associated with spilled fuel and other petroleum compounds is common on pipeline construction projects.

Evidence of spill control or cleanup efforts

The presence of in-stream containment booms and absorbent socks or pads, and sometimes scattered straw, on stream banks or adjacent areas, can indicate that a spill of fuel, other petroleum compounds, or other material has occurred.

Corridor and Access Road Observations

When observing the construction corridor, access roads, and other disturbed areas look in particular for a lack of, or failure of, erosion controls, including evidence of concentrated flows, and evidence of sediment moving offsite. Most problems will be evident during or shortly after rain or snow melt.

Failed, mismanaged, or missing downgrade perimeter control structures

Silt fences and compost socks can be overtopped or by-passed by sediment-laden runoff when improperly located, constructed, or maintained.

Failed, mismanaged, or missing water diversions

Although properly spaced water diversions are required to prevent concentrated runoff on disturbed slopes, they are often missing or damaged by equipment.

Discharge or runoff of sediment-laden water without sediment removal

Sediment removal structures, including sediment basins, traps, and filtering structures are required, but are often missing or have failed due to improper sizing and construction or lack of maintenance.

Earth disturbance to edge of stream without erosion controls

Direct runoff of sediment laden water to streams from disturbed areas is prohibited and must be prevented by sediment removal structures.

Presence of erosion gullies

An indication of concentrated flow and failed or missing erosion and sediment control.

Presence of off-site sediment deposits

An indication of failed or missing erosion and sediment control.

Presence of earthen slips, landslides, or washouts

An indication of slope-stabilization or drainage control failure and an indication of potentially continuing erosion and sedimentation problems.

Presence of mud tracked on to public roads from construction corridor and other disturbed areas

A source of sediment-laden runoff to streams.

Sediment-laden runoff from access roads and the presence of mud and ruts on road surface

An indication of failed or missing erosion and sediment control.