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Public Notices

Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-1999-00715 - Contra Costa County, California

Posted: 11/8/2012

Expiration date: 12/10/2012


CESPK-RD-D

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the 2013-2016 State Water Project (SWP) Delta Facility Increased Diversion to Recover Reduced Export Taken to Benefit Fisheries Resources project. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.

AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States.

APPLICANTS: Katherine F. Kelly, Chief, Bay-Delta Office, State of California Department of Water Resources (DWR), Room 215-37, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236-0001

Ron Milligan, Operations Manager, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Operation Office, 3310 El Camino Avenue, Suite 300, Sacramento, California 95821

LOCATION: The project site is approximately 6 miles northwest of the City of Tracy, in Section 20, Township 1 South, Range 4 East, Latitude 37.82975 and Longitude 121.55685 in Contra Costa County, California.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed project would increase water diversions out of Old River into the Clifton Court Forebay (CCF) to cover water supply reductions taken to protect sensitive fisheries. The project is proposing to allow the continued increase of daily maximum allowable daily and three day average diversion rate by 990 acre-feet/day (AF) during July through September. This increase is to recover water supply costs associated with previous reductions in State Water Project (SWP) diversions undertaken to benefit Bay-Delta fishery resources. The applicant has stated this will assist with water quality and storage withdrawal concerns at San Luis reservoir, which is a joint SWP and Central Valley Project (CVP) facility, operated by DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).

The project purpose is to increase the allowable diversions into CCF to allow the SWP to recover water supply reductions taken to protect sensitive fisheries. The project would also help alleviate water quality concerns and reduced storage levels associated with excessive drawdown of San Luis Reservoir (joint CVP and SWP facility) during the summer.

The maximum allowable daily diversion rate into the forebay during the months of July, August and September of calendar years 2013-2016 would be increased from 13,870 acre-feet (AF) to 14,860 AF and the maximum three-day average diversion rate will be increased from 13,250 AF to 14,240 AF (990 AF/day equivalent to 500 cubic feet per second [cfs] per day). This increased diversion over the three-month period would not exceed 90,000 AF each year and would not be greater than the total amount of export reductions to protect fishery resources in the current calendar year as well as any• unreimbursed export reductions from the previous year and anticipated export reductions in the subsequent year to protect fishery resources. The project was authorized previously by the Corps Permits number 199900715 and 199900715E for calendar years 2000 through 2012 (expiration September 30, 2012). DWR now is seeking an extension of the project for an additional four years-2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Conditions Governing the Use of Additional Pumping Capacity

1) The increased diversion rate will not result in an increase in annual SWP water supply allocations than would occur in the absence of the increased diversion rate. Water pumped due to the increased capacity will only be used to offset reduced diversions that occurred or will occur because of ESA or other actions taken to benefit fisheries.

2) Use of the increased diversion rate will be in accordance with all terms and conditions of existing biological opinions governing SWP operations.

3) All three temporary agricultural barriers (Middle River, Old River near Tracy and Grant Line Canal) must be in place and operating when SWP diversions are increased.

4) Prior to the start of, or during any time when the SWP has increased its diversion rate between July 1 and September 30, if the combined salvage of listed fish species reaches a level of concern, the Data Assessment Team (DAT) will convene to assess the need to modify the planned increase in SWP diversion rates. If DAT does not concur with the continued use of the increased SWP diversion rate, then the issue will be elevated to the Water Operations Management Team (WOMT). The WOMT will consider the DAT assessment as to whether the use of the SWP increased diversion rate should continue or be suspended. If the WOMT is unable to reach agreement on the operation, the relevant fish regulatory agency will determine whether the 500cfs increased diversion is or continues to be implemented.

The applicant has stated the CVP and the SWP use the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers in the Delta to transport natural river flows and reservoir storage to their facilities in the South Delta for export to their service areas. The Banks and Tracy pumping plants are operated to meet demands in the San Joaquin Valley, southern California, and the central coast and south San Francisco Bay areas. DWR asserts the Environmental Water Account (EWA) allows the SWP and the CVP to maximize their operational flexibility to protect sensitive Bay-Delta fisheries while ensuring there is no net water supply loss to SWP and CVP contractors. The applicant states expanding diversions into CCF and corresponding increases in pumping at Banks during the months of July, August and September would enhance the ability of the SWP to convey EWA north-of-Delta purchases at no risk to south-of Delta SWP contractors and help alleviate water quality concerns and reduced storage levels associated with excessive drawdown of the San Luis reservoir during the summer.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The following federally listed species and/or their critical habitat are present in the permit area: The endangered winter run chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, the threatened delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), Central Valley Steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss, and the spring-run chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. The project area may also be considered Essential Fish Habitat for Pacific salmon. Reclamation has stated the proposed 500 cfs/day increase in diversion was analyzed and addressed in the current biological opinions (BOs) issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for the CVP and SWP operations.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. As the lead federal agency for this project, Reclamation will initiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as appropriate.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The applicant has stated they will request concurrence from DFG that incidental take of winter-run salmon and Delta smelt associated with this project is authorized under the BOs which DFG has adopted.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the information provided by the applicant, no cultural resources will be affected by the proposed project.

Alternatives: The applicant has not provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.

Mitigation: The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has not proposed mitigation beyond avoidance and minimization measure listed above. Being as the project is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and no fill or loss of waters of the United States would result from project implementation no additional mitigation would be required by the Corps.

The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Indian tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-1999-00715 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before December 10, 2012.

William Guthrie, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Email: William.H.Guthrie@usace.army.mil

The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicants at the above addresses, or the Corps' project manager William Guthrie, 916-557-5269, William.H.Guthrie@usace.army.mil.