Replacement of leaky gas line to slice through county


THE WISCONSIN PUBLIC Service Commission is considering an application from Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to construct a natural gas pipeline, like the one shown above, from Chilton to Plymouth to replace an aging existing gas line. — Photo from Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection THE WISCONSIN PUBLIC Service Commission is considering an application from Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to construct a natural gas pipeline, like the one shown above, from Chilton to Plymouth to replace an aging existing gas line. — Photo from Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPSC) filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) on May 10, 2018, seeking authority to construct a natural gas main and associated facilities in the cities of Chilton, New Holstein and Kiel, and the towns of Chilton, Brothertown, Charlestown, and New Holstein located in Calumet County; the town of Schleswig located in Manitowoc County; and the towns of Rhine, Plymouth, and Sheboygan Falls located in Sheboygan County.

This article is a verbatim condensation compiled by The Review of key points from the state’s much longer and more detailed Environmental Analysis. Copies of the analysis are available from Adam Ingwell, WPSC Environmental Affairs Coordinator — Supervisor (adam.ingwell@ wisconsin.gov, or WPSC P.O. Box 7854 Madison 53707-7854. Comments must be received by Dec. 14, 2018.


THIS MAP SHOWS the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline from Chilton to Plymouth proposed by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to replace an aging line from the 1950s. THIS MAP SHOWS the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline from Chilton to Plymouth proposed by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to replace an aging line from the 1950s. The proposed project has a segmented route with several shared sections and several alternative sections being presented by WPSC.

WPSC states in its application that the purpose of the proposed project is to renew aging 1950s vintage natural gas facilities, while maintaining service to the customers and communities currently fed by the gas main. There are no transmission facilities or alternate distribution systems in the vicinity of the project that would allow for WPSC to maintain this distribution gas main between Plymouth and Chilton.

Construction of the 1950s gas main was completed in three phases. The first, constructed in 1951, consisted of 14 miles of 8-inch steel gas main connecting Plymouth regulator station to the city of Kiel and 2.2 miles of 6-inch steel gas main from Kiel to the south side of New Holstein. Phase two was completed in 1955 and included 2.4 miles of 6-inch steel gas main run to the north side of New Holstein. The final phase installed 5.2 miles of 6-inch steel gas main in 1957 from the north side of New Holstein to Chilton.

The welding practices used during construction of the gas main have been called into question due to the number of leak repairs made since installation. A review of WPSC records found nine repairs have been made to address weld leaks on the 8-inch gas main running from Plymouth to Kiel. The leaks can be attributed to the welding practices used during the installation of this gas main, resulting in only partial penetration of the weld joints.

The installation of 8-inch steel gas main, to replace the existing 6-inch portions, would allow for WPS to meet the current need and demands of the area, while also increasing capacity to accommodate future growth in the area.

The project proposed by WPSC includes the construction of up to 28.8 miles of 8-inch steel gas main to replace the existing main that connects Plymouth and Chilton. If approved, 99% of main would be located in permanent private easement and the remaining 1% would be located within existing road right-of-way (ROW) as part of road crossings. Permanent easements for this project would be mostly 50 feet wide, with the exception of fifteen areas where the easement would be as narrow as 25 feet, and nine areas where there would be expanded easement for valve nests and regulator stations.

Temporary easements adjacent to permanent easements and existing ROW would also be required along most of the project route during construction. These temporary easements would be typically 25 feet in non-agricultural land and 50 feet in agricultural land to account for the additional space required for soil segregation. Road ROW will be utilized whenever possible to minimize the impact to private land owners and trees.

The route alternatives proposed by WPSC would be between 27.4 miles and 28.8 miles in length and would begin at the West Chilton regulator station on the north side of Quinney Road 4,500 feet west of Chilton Public High School.

The construction of the proposed gas pipelines, valve nests, and regulator stations would commence following the receipt of all required permits and approvals, as well as acquisition of all project corridors.

WPSC would use existing easements in addition to new permanent and/or temporary easements along the proposed route. Permanent easements would be typically 50 feet wide along the routes. Additional permanent easements would be required in nine locations for valve nests, regulator stations, and new or expanded regulator station footprints. Temporary easements would vary from 25 in non-agricultural areas to 50 feet wide in agricultural areas to account for the additional space required for soil segregation. Sections with adjacent permanent and temporary easements would total up to 100 feet wide typically throughout the project. Additional temporary work space, up to 100 feet by 200 feet in size, would also be required along the route. Laydown areas adjacent to waterways and wetlands as well as road crossings would be included in this temporary work space.

Construction equipment used would include: dozers, graders, excavators, trenchers, dump trucks, back hoes, side booms, all-terrain vehicles, road bore rigs, horizontal directional drill rigs, pickup trucks, rock trenchers, vacuum excavators, rippers, tillers, rock picking machines, welding rigs and trucks, and x-ray trucks. WPSC would use several common construction techniques along the length of the proposed project, including open trenching, horizontal directional drilling (HDD), and jack and bore construction.

WPSC states that the project would begin with work area preparation consisting of clearing and grading to provide a level area for pipe-laying operations and transport of construction equipment. Trenches would be made with nearly vertical walls in locations where soils are stable, and trench boxes might be used at some locations. The width of trenches would usually be five feet wide by five feet deep. Material excavated during trenching would be temporarily piled to one side of the corridor, with topsoil and subsoil separated. Any material not suitable for backfill, or in excess, would be hauled to a suitable location. Proper erosion control practices would be employed to minimize erosion during trenching and construction activities. Water that collected in the trench would be removed and disposed of as regulated by DNR standards and requirements that are designed to limit impacts from discharge of construction site water. Standard precautions would be taken to identify and avoid disturbance to any existing underground utility lines that cross the corridor.

Following trenching, WPSC would deliver and position pipe sections along the corridor where they could be lined-up on supports and welded to form a continuous pipeline along the trench. The bottom of the trench would be inspected to ensure it is free of rock and debris. If required, sand or soil bedding material would be placed in the trench bottom. The pipeline would be lowered into the trench using side boom tractors. The trench would then be backfilled using excavated material and compacted to minimize future settlement. Then the corridor would be restored using surface grading to reestablish natural contours, and revegetation compatible with preconstruction conditions and adjacent vegetation patterns would be completed.

A total of 66 wetlands are present along the proposed Common Route segments, incorporating Route A segments, classified as wet meadow, sedge meadow, seasonally flooded basin, shallow marsh, shrub-carr, hardwood swamp, and floodplain forest.

Shrub and forested wetland is present along both proposed routes, and some clearing of the right-of-way (ROW) would need to occur in preparation for construction. For future maintenance to the pipeline, a 10-foot-wide corridor along the pipeline would need to be permanently maintained in an herbaceous state, but the tree canopy layer could remain intact.

To minimize wetland disturbance, WPS stated they would reduce the construction workspace through wetlands to a width of 75 feet. Excavated soil would be segregated to prevent topsoil and subsoil mixing from occurring, and to preserve the natural seed bank. Wetland in the workspace proximate to the construction trench would be protected from equipment and soil stockpiling by the use of timber matting which would keep soil and vegetation disturbance to a minimum and minimize compaction. Soils disturbed by vehicular rutting greater than 6 inches deep or with mat depressions would be leveled and restored.

Twenty-five waterways and waterbodies are present along the proposed Common Route segments, incorporating Route A segments. One waterway is designated as a trout stream and Area of Special Natural Resource Interest (ASNRI) by the WDNR. Eight of the waterways are proposed to be trenched to install the pipeline, eight are proposed to be drilled under using HDD, and nine waterways would not be crossed with the installation of the new pipe. Ten waterways would require the installation of a temporary clear span bridge (TCSB).

Twenty-six waterways and waterbodies are present along the proposed Common Route segments, incorporating Route B segments. One waterway is designated as a trout stream and ASNRI by the WDNR. Ten of the waterways are proposed to be trenched to install the pipeline, eight are proposed to be drilled under using HDD, and nine waterways would not be crossed with the installation of the new pipe. Eleven waterways would require the installation of a temporary clear span bridge (TCSB).

The proposed project crosses three Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (WDNR) owned lands. WPS has met with WDNR property management, resource management, and real estate staff to discuss the proposed project, potential impacts, and obtain any concerns from WDNR staff.

The Kiel Marsh Wildlife Area is proposed to be crossed along Segment 5, a segment common to both routes. The boating landing at this area would be temporarily closed for setting up of HDD equipment.

The La Budde Creek Fishery Area is proposed to be crossed along segments 6A or 6B. WDNR staff noted steep slopes in this area, the presence of glacial till, and that bow hunting is common in this area.

The Ice Age Trail is proposed to be crossed along segments 6A or 6B. WDNR staff said that the trail is heavily used in this area. In order to minimize impacts to trail users, WPS is proposing to use the HDD crossing method to avoid impacts to the trail and parking area.

Forested lands were identified and reviewed using aerial photography and field observations in August and September 2017.

According to Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law (MFL) program summary (Rev November 2017) utility rightsof way are not considered improvements for the benefit of the property and are allowed on land enrolled in the MFL program, therefore this project will not jeopardize a landowner’s participation in the program or Forest Crop Law properties.

When routing the proposed gas main, WPS used corridor sharing as much as possible in order to minimize and avoid creating new corridors through forested areas. In addition, when open cut trenching through forested areas, WPS would reduce its construction width from 100 feet to 75 feet to minimize forest clearing. When directional boring through forested areas, WPS would only clear the necessary 10-foot path over the pipe necessary for future access and maintenance.

The WDNR has identified endangered resources that could be present within the common and alternate project routes, the potential impacts on these resources, and the avoidance measures that should be implemented. This EA only discusses the species that may be impacted by this project. It will not include species that may be found in the project area but would not be impacted by the proposed activities as determined by WDNR species experts and/or Endangered Resources Utility Liaison.

This project has the potential to impact several unique and rare resources found along the proposed project routes. The majority of these impacts could be minimized or avoided entirely if the applicants follow the measures (provided in the environmental assessment report).

All common and alternative proposed route segments would create agricultural impacts if approved. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has produced an Agricultural Impact Statement (AIS) to investigate impacts to agricultural landowners. (PSC REF#: 352470). This information would be useful for landowners in the easement negotiation process, and would be provided to landowners as part of that process.

The project would create increased noise and dust in the areas of construction.

Construction of the project may cause the spread and establishment of invasive species.

During the construction phase of this project, there could be spills of potentially hazardous pollutants such as diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, drilling fluids, lubricants, and solvents.

There are no reasonable alternatives to the proposed project that meet the goals of replacing old high pressure gas main and increasing capacity to accommodate future growth in the area.

No geographically important or scarce resources were identified within the area to be affected by construction of the proposed project. No historic or cultural resources would be affected by the construction of the proposed project. No conflicts with federal, state, or local plans or policies were mentioned in WPSC’s project proposal and no additional conflicts have come to Commission staff’s attention.

Commission staff has not identified any potential environmental effects of the proposed project that could be considered significant.


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