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Exposed pipeline in Carmel Valley open space to be repaired

An energy infrastructure company is planning to make repairs to a washout and exposed pipeline on a hillside within the Carmel Mountain Preserve in Carmel Valley, just east of the Carmel Creek Apartments at the end of Carmel Creek Road. Parts of the high-pressure refined petroleum products pipeline owned and operated by Kinder Morgan have been exposed in some places and other parts are at risk of exposure.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved the repair project at its Oct. 27 meeting in an 8-1 vote with Jeffrey Heden opposed.

The project area is relatively small off Carmel Creek Road and above Tang Road: 178 feet long and 10 feet wide on a steep grade of 50-60%. The open space land is owned by the city, with an easement granted to Kinder Morgan for the Santa Fe Petroleum Pipeline (SFPP), a line that transports products all the way from Portland, Oregon.

“This area we’re looking to repair is on a steep slope and runoff has flowed down the hillside at such a quantity and velocity that it has eroded the earthen cover over the pipeline,” said Kevin O’Callahan, civil engineer with AECOM, a construction engineering company.

O’Callahan said they anticipate one week of construction to excavate the earth around the 10-inch pipe and install trench plugs, a barrier put on sides and above to slow the runoff rate and help prevent erosion. A geotextile permeable fabric will be placed on top and plantings will help to revegetate the area with a native coastal sage scrub mix.

The star marks the project area for the pipeline repairs.
(Karen Billing)

According to AECOM, the disturbance area is less than 700 square feet so there will be a small visual impact for a period of time.

The project will require a site development permit and a coastal development permit from the city. Due to the property being located in the protected California gnatcatcher habitat, the repair work will need to be done outside of the breeding season which lasts from February to September. Pending permits, the work is anticipated to start in September 2023.

While the majority of the planning board was supportive, Heden questioned the methodology for the repairs but said he hopes the project will be successful.


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