Comment Period: June 12, 2017 – July 12, 2017
On March 22, 2017, the Sacramento District finalized our regional conditions for the 2017 Nationwide Permits, which went into effect on March 19, 2017. Division Engineers are authorized to add regional conditions specific to the needs and/or requirements of a particular region or state. Regional conditions are important mechanisms to ensure that impacts to the aquatic environment authorized by the NWPs are minimal, both individually and cumulatively.
In June 2013 the Corps’ Albuquerque District was designated the lead district within the Corps South Pacific Division region for coordination of Corps regulatory program issues within the boundary of the Navajo Nation. The goal of this designation is to bring consistency to the regulatory program within the Navajo Nation and to simplify and increase the efficiency of program implementation. Lead District designation only applies to management of regulatory consistency and each district is responsible for regulatory program execution within its area of responsibility. One of the primary activities undertaken is the ongoing consolidation of regional conditions of the three Corps districts whose area of responsibility includes Navajo Nation lands (Albuquerque District within New Mexico, Sacramento District within Utah, and Los Angeles District within Arizona). The consolidation will assist Navajo Nation agencies that must comply with the regulatory program and the Nation’s water quality program which provides water quality certification for permitted activities. These consolidated regional conditions were adopted within Albuquerque District on March 22, 2017 and are as follows:
NN 1. Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) for Dredge and Fill Activities in Intermittent and Perennial Streams, Special Aquatic Sites, and Springs.
Notification to the District Engineer in accordance with General Condition 32 is required for all proposed activities in intermittent and perennial streams, special aquatic sites (including wetlands, riffle and pool complexes, and sanctuaries and refuges), and discharges of dredged or fill material within 100 feet of the point of groundwater discharge of natural springs. A spring source is defined as any location where ground water emanates from a point in the ground and has a defined surface water connection to another water of the United States. For purposes of this regional condition, springs do not include seeps or other discharges which lack a defined surface water connection.
NN 2. Suitable Fill
Use of broken concrete as fill or bank stabilization material is prohibited unless the applicant demonstrates that its use is the only practicable material (with respect to cost, existing technology, and logistics). Any applicant who wishes to use broken concrete as bank stabilization must provide notification to the District Engineer in accordance with General Condition 32 (Pre-Construction Notification) along with justification for such use. Use of broken concrete with rebar or used tires (loose or formed into bales) is prohibited in all waters of the United States.
NN 3. Channelization
Projects that would result in permanent channelization to previously un-channelized streams require PCN to the District Engineer in accordance with General Condition 32.
In order to improve the consistency of the Corps’ regulatory program on Navajo Nation lands and maintain the Corps’ commitment to our tribal trust responsibilities, the Sacramento District is proposing to adopt these regional conditions within Navajo Nation lands in the state of Utah. These conditions would (on Navajo Nation lands only) replace the regional conditions that currently apply to the remainder of the Sacramento District, most of which either do not apply or address issues that are adequately covered by existing programs and policies on Navajo Nation lands. The Sacramento District is also proposing to adopt these regional conditions on Navajo Nation lands in the state of Utah.
Under the 2012 Nationwide Permit program, which was in effect from March 19, 2012 through March 18, 2017, the Sacramento District verified 60 nationwide permit verifications, in association with 11 individual projects within Navajo Nation lands in the state of Utah (an individual project, such as a highway or pipeline project, may include numerous NWP actions which are treated as “separate and complete” nationwide permits). This represents approximately 9% of the total NWP verifications issued in the state of Utah during this same period. Approximately 90% of nationwide permits verified under the 2012 NWP program on Navajo Nation lands in the state of Utah were associated with construction and maintenance of road crossings in waters of the U.S. which typically result in temporary impacts or small permanent impacts to waters (less than 0.1 acre). The total cumulative impact to waters during this time was approximately 2.4 acres, which is approximately 3.6% of the total for the state of Utah during this same period. The attached Figure depicts all individual projects with NWP verifications within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation (inclusive of the Los Angeles, Sacramento and Albuquerque Districts). Note that projects with multiple NWP verifications are consolidated into single actions. The Sacramento District anticipates a similar level of NWP verifications during the 5-year term of the 2017 NWPs.
Navajo Nation lands in Utah falls within the Colorado Plateaus Ecoregion, is an uplifted, eroded, and deeply dissected tableland with benches, mesas, buttes, salt valleys, cliffs and canyons that are formed in and underlain by thick layers of sedimentary rock. Because this ecoregion is characterized by arid and semi-arid climate regimes, the extent of perennial streams and special aquatic sites (as defined in 40 C.F.R. Part 230, Subpart E) are limited. The implementation of Regional Condition NN 1 would help to ensure review of actions in these scarce resources through mandatory submission of a PCN for any proposed impact to intermittent and perennial streams, special aquatic sites and springs. Regional Conditions NN 2 and NN 3 would expand upon existing NWP general conditions to address specific resource concerns on Navajo Nation lands.
The Sacramento District is soliciting comments from the public and other interested parties on the proposal to adopt these regional conditions within Navajo Nation lands in Utah in lieu of our current regional conditions. Written comments on the proposed Regional Conditions for Navajo Nation Lands in Utah may be submitted to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, 1325 J Street, Room 1350, Sacramento California 95814-2922, Attn: Ms. Lisa M. Gibson, or via email at Lisa.M.Gibson2@usace.army.mil.
Comments are due by July 12, 2017. Additional information regarding the 2017 NWPs, including the Sacramento District’s current regional conditions and other information related to the NWP Program are available at our website at http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permitting/Nationwide-Permits/. If you have questions, or would like a hard copy of this Public Notice or the attachment, please contact Regulatory Permit Specialist Lisa Gibson at 916-557-5288 or Lisa.M.Gibson2@usace.army.mil.