Comments Period: October 27, 2017 – November 10, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Head of Old River Temporary Barrier project (HOR), which would result in impacts to approximately 0.65 acre of waters of the United States in Old River near the divergence from the San Joaquin River. 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 Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: State of California Department of Water Resources, Attn: Mr. Francis Chung, 1416 9th Street, Room 215-34, Sacramento, California 94236-0001.
LOCATION: The site is located is located between Upper Roberts Island and Stewart Tract at the divergence of the San Joaquin River and Old River, Latitude 37.809°, Longitude 121.328°, San Joaquin County, California, and can be seen on the CA-LATHROP USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The project consists of seasonal construction and removal of the HOR barrier at the above described location each year (2018 through 2022). The barrier serves a dual purpose and may be installed in the spring and in the fall. In the spring, the barrier acts as a fish barrier to decrease the number of salmonid smolts entering Old River. This can be accomplished by installing a rock barrier or a Non Physical Barrier (NPB). In the fall, the barrier may be needed to increase flows and dissolved oxygen levels downstream in the San Joaquin River including the Stockton deepwater shipping channel; therefore, a rock barrier must be used. A fish study may be conducted in some years to understand survival and behavior of salmonids and predatory fish in the vicinity of the barrier.
Spring Rock Barrier
The spring HOR rock barrier is intended to prevent downstream-migrating salmon smolts in the San Joaquin River from entering Old River, which would expose them to State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) diversion operations and unscreened agricultural diversions. The spring HOR rock barrier is constructed with approximately 12,500 cy of rock to form a 225-foot long and 85-foot wide (at the base) berm. Installation of the spring barrier involves placement of material occupying approximately 0.39 acre of Waters of the United States. The barrier has a crest elevation of 12.3 feet (NAVD88). Construction at the south end of the barrier includes the placement of six to eight, 48-inch diameter culverts with slide-gates into the barrier abutment. The middle section includes a 75-foot weir at an elevation of 8.3 feet that is capped with clay up to the barrier crest elevation (12.3 feet, NAVD88). A ramp and dock may be secured to the shore in order to allow storage and safe access to small boats that may be used for construction, maintenance and research purposes.
Fall Rock Barrier
Installation of the fall HOR rock barrier may be needed to increase flows and dissolved oxygen levels downstream in the San Joaquin River. The fall HOR rock barrier is constructed similarly to the spring barrier, but using approximately 7,500 cy of rock to form a smaller 225 foot long and 65-foot wide (at the base) berm that is constructed to a crest elevation of 8.3 feet (NAVD88) and includes a 30-foot wide notch at elevation 2.3 feet (NAVD88) to allow the passage of adult salmonids.
Construction and Removal Schedule
The spring barrier would be installed as early as March 1 and breached between May 16 and May 31 and the fall barrier may be installed as early as September 1 and would be completely removed by November 30, of each year.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: On February 13, 1998, the Corps issued public notice 199600027/199800015 stating that the HOR Barrier would be administratively separated from the three agricultural barriers. The PN indicated that these barriers would be evaluated as separate projects under separate Department of the Army permits and these projects have been evaluated separately since.
Alternatives. The applicant has 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. DWR purchased 6.0 acres of shallow water habitat credits for the TBP. DWR utilized a credit of 1.25 acres left over from the Kimball Island Mitigation Bank and an additional 4.75-acres of shallow water habitat credits was purchased at the Liberty Island Conservation Bank.
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, Central Valley Region is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect. The Corps will ensure compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as necessary.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The HOR barrier is within designated critical habitat for federally listed fish species. This project may affect delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Central Valley spring-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and Green Sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). On November 27, 2012, the Corps initiated consultation for the above species and their designated critical habitat with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a programmatic Biological Opinion on February 21, 2014 (08FBDT00-20112-F-0017), and National Marine Fisheries issued their programmatic B.O. on May 03, 2013, (2012/9347) for the entire project. The Corps will reinitiate 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.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. The Corps will initiate 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-2000-00696 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before November 10, 2017.
Chandra Browne, 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 or the Corps' project manager Chandra Browne, (916) 557-6652, Chandra.L.Browne@usace.army.mil.