PHMSA released its report to Congress regarding liquid pipeline incidents at certain inland water crossings, finding that 16 of 20 release incidents occurring since 1991 in pipeline water crossings greater than 100 feet in width were associated with flooding or stream overflow. The Report concludes that “depletion of cover” and “the dynamic and unique nature of rivers and flood plains” were factors in all of these incidents. Consistent with the Pipeline Safety Act requirements, PHMSA will report to Congress in one year with an update on its “plans to ensure the sufficiency” of pipeline depth of cover regulations. As such, it appears inevitable that within the next year PHMSA will propose to amend and expand its water crossing regulations to implement one or more of the following regulatory actions: (1) require increased depth of cover; (2) require maintenance of cover during operations (not just during construction); or (3) require horizontal directional drill (HDD) at crossings greater than 100 feet at high water. The costs associated with each of those options increases dramatically as they move toward requiring HDD. Click here to review the Report.