Comments Period: February 17, 2017 – March 18, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Mendota Pool Bypass & Reach 2B Project, of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project. The proposed project would result in permanent impacts to approximately 226.77 acres and an additional 29.30 acres of temporary impacts to waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to the San Joaquin River for the construction of this 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 and under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Bureau of Reclamation,
Attn: Ms. Alicia Forsythe,
San Joaquin River Restoration,
2800 Cottage Way,
Sacramento, California 95825-1898
LOCATION: The approximately 5,610.65-acre project site is located in the San Joaquin River, including the Mendota Pool, in Sections 7, 8, 16-23, 25-27, 29-30, 32, and 36, Township 13 South, Range 15 East, MDB&M, Latitude 36.7802°, Longitude -120.3298°, near the City of Mendota, Fresno and Madera Counties, California. This project can be seen on the CA-MENDOTA DAM USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant, the Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau), is proposing to restore Reach 2B of the San Joaquin River. The proposed project will construct a channel between Reach 2B and Reach 3, the Compact Bypass channel, in order to bypass the Mendota Pool. San Joaquin River Restoration Flows will enter Reach 2B at the Chowchilla Bifurcation Structure, flow through Reach 2B, then downstream to Reach 3 via the Compact Bypass channel. The existing Chowchilla Bifurcation Structure will continue to divert San Joaquin River flows into the Chowchilla Bypass during flood operations. This action will include constructing two new structures in Reach 2B, the Compact Bypass control structure and the Mendota Pool control structure (Collectively referred to as the Compact Bypass structures), to divert up to 2,500 cfs to the Mendota Pool. Fish passage facilities and a fish screen will be built at the Compact Bypass control structure to provide passage around the structure when gates are closed during times of water delivery. The project also entails building setback levees capable of conveying flows up to 4,500 cfs with three feet of freeboard, and breaching portions of the existing levees. Restoring a floodplain habitat with an average width of approximately 4,200 feet. This project is designed to provide benefits to salmonids and other native fishes. See associated project plans and drawings for more details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 711.26 acres of waters of the United States within the project site. These waters of the United States are made up of approximately 396.59 acres of other waters of the United States, 299.68 acres of wetlands, and 14.99 acres of jurisdictional canals that are present within the survey area. These features are potential jurisdictional aquatic resources or waters of the United States and are regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant. 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 proposed to create a project that will result in no net loss of wetlands, restore the function and flow to Reach 2B, reestablish fish passage between Reach 2B and Reach 3 of the San Joaquin River. Additionally, this project proposes to create additional habitat for listed and other fish species. The applicant proposes to create approximately 1,331.11 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, on-site with the construction of this project. Additionally, approximately 79.0 acres of existing wetlands/waters within the project site will remain after the project is constructed for a total of 1,409.0 acres of waters of the United States shall exist after the project is completed. See the associated project drawings for more details.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification. The applicant is coordinating with the State Lands Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as well for this project.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. The applicant, the Bureau, is the federal lead agency for this project. The Bureau, the Corps, and the California State Historic Preservation Officer have created a Programmatic Agreement for this project for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The applicant, the Bureau, is the federal lead agency for this project. The Bureau has completed consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate for this project. Species that were consulted on were the San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila), palmate-bracted bird’s beak (Cordylanthus palmatus), California jewelflower (Caulanthus californicus), San Joaquin wooly threads (Monolopia (=lembertia) congdonii), giant garter snake, (Thamnophis gigas), Fresno kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis), the least Bell’s vireo (Vireo belii pusillus), the California Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and the Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha). The valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) is no longer considered a species of concern in the project area as of September 2014, when the range of the species was altered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. The Bureau, as the federal lead agency, has done consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as appropriate.
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-2010-00319 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before March 18, 2017.
Ms. Kathy Norton, Sr. Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
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 applicant, Ms. Rebecca Victorine, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 916-978-4624l or the Corps' project manager Ms. Kathy Norton, (916) 557-5260, Kathy.Norton@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: drawings and 3 tables