ONEOK pipeline in the ground, restoration process begins

Following the installation of the ONEOK Arbuckle II Pipeline through properties in Parker County, residents are now trying to remedy erosion and drainage concerns. 

After it was announced in November of 2018, the ONEOK Arbuckle II Pipeline has been put in the ground through Parker County and the restoration process has begun.

ONEOK, which is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is putting in the 24-inch, 530-mile pipeline through 15 counties for the transport of natural gas.

“The Arbuckle II Pipeline will provide critical NGL transportation capacity and connect ONEOK’s extensive Mid-Continent NGL infrastructure with its similar facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast,” ONEOK Communications Manager Brad Borror said.

Residents were not happy when the construction was underway last summer, saying their contracts had been breached and their properties destroyed. Now, with the completion of the pipeline, residents say the biggest concerns remaining are erosion and drainage issues.

“The pipeline may be in the ground, but the work is not completed. The after-effects are now there and there’s still a lot of work to be done in restoring the property to its original condition. Once we were able to talk to people that actually are employees of ONEOK, rather than their contract landmen, we have gotten much better results and the actual employees of ONEOK have been pretty responsive to what our needs are and trying to address the issues that we’ve had,” resident Larry Walden said. “They finished mine several weeks ago to the best extent that they could, but just like everybody else, I do have water standing where it didn’t before and I have erosion caused by the heavy rains we have had. We’re in contact with the ONEOK folks and they will be coming back to remedy those situations.”

Resident Debra Sue Waters said it hasn’t been a pleasant experience and she’s still needing drainage work done on her property.

“I still have water standing on mine, which they came out twice to fix and it was a joke, they just made it worse. I got an estimate from a guy and he’s going to come out and fix it for me, so I’m having to do that on my own. It has not been the most pleasant experience in the world. They’ve done what I’ve asked them to do, for the most part, it’s just you have to ask them several times and then sometimes it just doesn’t get done the way it should be done,” Waters said. “I am probably more satisfied than most people, but I still have some stuff that needs to be finished and I just told them to forget it — if you’ll pay for it, I’ll do it myself. Basically, there’s a lip along that pipeline all the way through now, it’s about six inches lower than everything else, and so now I’m paying somebody to come do it, but [ONEOK] did reimburse me for it. I got an estimate and they wrote him a check and he’s coming out as soon as it dries out to fix it.”

Resident Steve McWilliams — who had more than 50 of his 150-year-old trees cut down — said he has hired an arborist and his biggest problem is erosion.

“I’ve hired an arborist because he said, in his professional opinion, they have taken out way too many trees, not only on the pipeline easement but also the temporary work spaces. The biggest problem I’m having right now is erosion. In the contract, it states, where it is necessary to prevent erosion caused by the construction or operation of the pipeline, grantee — that’s ONEOK — will terrace the surface of the easement in such a fashion as to prevent erosion from water runoff,” McWilliams said. “I know we’ve had a lot of rain, but I’ve never seen the erosion this bad and it’s because all the vegetation is gone. They didn’t terrace like they were supposed to and they were not timely enough, in my opinion, to get the winter wheat down. It’s grown some, but it’s not enough to prevent the erosion.”

McWilliams said he still isn’t sure what to do with the large mulch piles that are sitting on his property from the trees that were taken down.

“On the mulch, it’s not like mulch that you would put down in your flowerbed because it’s just really big chunks. I told them if they would come out and mulch that again, we could spread it on the land and they said they don’t do that. That’s an option to me that it seems they would be very willing to do,” McWilliams said. “So for now, I’m still waiting to hear back from my arborist, he has a lot of work to do.”

Borror did confirm that while the pipeline is in the ground, they are now working on the restoration process.

“Primary construction of the pipeline is complete in Parker County. Cleanup and restoration activities will continue in the area as we work to fulfill obligations included in easement agreements with landowners,” Borror said. “We expect to complete the entire project in the first quarter of this year.”

Walden said Precinct 3 has not collected any money from ONEOK at this time in regards to the damage to county roadways.

“They have pledged to work with us to correct those issues and/or pay us to correct those issues when they were crossing the county roads here in Precinct 3,” Walden said. “So I’m confident we will be able to work that out as well.”

Waters said if she ever has to go through this again, she won’t be so agreeable at the start.

“If ever I have to do this again, I’m not going to be as agreeable to start this as I was because if my neighbors had not known what was going on, they would have destroyed my place while I was out of town,” Waters said. “They didn’t stick to one thing they said they were going to do. They should treat people better than they have and their policies seem to be doing whatever the heck you want and deal with the consequences.”

Borror said maintaining positive relationships with the residents is important to ONEOK.

“Cultivating and maintaining positive community and landowner relationships in all areas where we operate is critical to ONEOK’s success. The project team has worked diligently to engage in an open dialogue with all stakeholders, including Parker County landowners, to hear and address questions or concerns throughout all phases of the pipeline project,” Borror said. “We look forward to building on these relationships and to being a part of the community as we complete the Arbuckle II Pipeline and operate it for years to come.”

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