Comments Period: March 23, 2018 – April 23, 2018
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is proposing to revise and re-issue Regional General Permit (RGP) 8 for Emergency Repair and Protection Activities (RGP). This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed RGP and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This RGP would authorize activities subject to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
LOCATION: This RGP would authorize activities within the Sacramento District boundaries of California, the State of Nevada, and the State of Utah.
RGP DESCRIPTION: The proposed RGP would authorize permanent or temporary work or structures in navigable waters of the U.S., and/or the permanent or temporary discharge of dredged and/or fill material into waters of the U.S., including wetlands, for repair or protection activities for which this office has determined that an emergency situation exists. The activities authorized under this RGP, include, but are not limited to, bank stabilization, restoration of damaged areas, temporary fills for dewatering and construction access, and repair, replacement, or rehabilitation of existing structures and fills, such as utility and wastewater systems, pipelines, flood control structures and features, irrigation pumps or intakes, roads, and bridges. See the enclosed RGP 8 for a full description of the authorized activities, terms, and conditions.
Background. RGP 8 was originally issued by the Sacramento District as RGP 60 in January 1998, for repair or protection activities in emergency situations. RGP 60 was re-issued with minor modification to the project descriptions and substantial modifications to the conditions in January 2004. In December 2009, RGP 60 was re-issued, authorizing work in waters of the U.S. associated with activities necessary to repair or protect existing structures, facilities or fills where an imminent threat to life or property exists due to unforeseen events during an emergency situation. In January 2015, RGP 60 was re-issued as RGP 8, authorizing emergency repair and rehabilitation of previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills in emergency situations. In September 2015, RGP 8 was modified to correct errors and provide additional clarification. RGP 8 expires on December 31, 2019.
Due to extensive precipitation during 2017, flooding occurred in much of the California Central Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains. As a result, the Sacramento District verified over 90 activities under RGP 8 between January 1, 2017 and March 15, 2018. Only 12 RGP 8 activities were authorized between December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2016. As a result of the substantial increase in the requests for authorization under RGP 8 in 2017, the Corps identified a number of activities that met the definition of emergency activities, but were not able to be verified as they did not meet the requirements of RGP 8 as “repair and rehabilitation of previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills.” These primarily included areas where large areas of river or stream bank eroded during discrete events, where no previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills existed.
In order to ensure RGP 8 authorizes no more than minimal direct, indirect, and cumulative adverse effects to the aquatic environment for a variety of activities during emergency situations, the Corps is proposing to modify this RGP, and re-issue for a 5-year period. As part of the proposed modifications, the Corps is proposing to modify formatting to be consistent with existing RGPs, as well as provide clarifications to the process for evaluating proposed activities under RGP 8.
Summary of Substantial Proposed Changes to RGP 8.
Activities Covered under RGP: Existing RGP 8 is limited to repair/rehabilitation of previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills in emergency situations. Proposed RGP 8 would authorize permanent or temporary work or structures in navigable waters of the U.S. and/or permanent or temporary discharge of dredged /fill material into waters of the U.S. for repair or protection activities in emergency situations.
Initiation of Construction Activities: Existing RGP 8 requires work to be initiated within 7 days following verification of the RGP by the Corps. Proposed RGP 8 requires work in waters of the U.S. commence no later than 14 days following verification of the RGP by the Corps, unless the Corps specifically determines, in writing, that logistical considerations necessitate an extension beyond 14 days.
Restoration of Areas damaged by discrete events: Restoration of areas damaged by discrete events is generally not authorized by existing RGP 8, unless it would result in the repair or rehabilitation of previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills. Proposed RGP 8 would allow for the restoration of areas damaged by discrete events, subject to specific terms to ensure the effects would be no more than minimal.
Bank Stabilization: Bank stabilization is generally not authorized by existing RGP 8, unless it would result in the repair or rehabilitation of previously authorized, currently serviceable, structures or fills. Proposed RGP 8 would authorize bank stabilization, with new bank stabilization activities subject to specific terms to ensure the effects would be no more than minimal.
Notification, Timing, and Process: Notification, timing, and process is not clearly identified, with limited discussion in the General Conditions of the existing RGP 8. Proposed RGP 8 contains a Notification Procedures section, which provides the requirements for a complete notification, and the process and timing for the evaluation of activities by the Corps.
Agency Notification: Existing RGP 8 requires applicant provide a notification package to the Corps and applicable agencies, and requires the Corps to provide the notification package to applicable agencies. Proposed RGP 8 would require only the Corps to provide the notification package to applicable agencies, to reduce unnecessary paperwork and redundancy.
Notification Package: The required contents of a complete notification are substantially the same between existing RGP 8 and proposed RGP 8. The proposed RGP 8 allows the Corps to determine the nature of the threat to life or property or the potential economic hardship precludes the submittal of some of all of the required information with the Notification package, in which case the information would need to be submitted within 30-days following initiation of construction activities in waters of the U.S. authorized by the RGP.
Activity Completion: The existing RGP 8 requires activities to be completed within 6 months from verification, unless an extension is provided by the Corps. The proposed RGP 8 requires work in waters of the U.S. be completed within 180 calendar days from commencement of construction activities in waters of the U.S., unless an extension is provided by the Corps.
General Conditions: A number of the General Conditions of the existing RGP 8 have been modified, removed, or relocated in the proposed RGP 8. The General Conditions in the existing RGP 8 related to shellfish production, water supply intakes, and adverse effects to impoundments, have been removed in the proposed RGP 8.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act will be requested from the States of California, Nevada, and Utah, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Tribes, as applicable.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The issuance of the RGP will have no potential to affect cultural resources listed in, or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Corps will initiate any required consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for individual activities that may qualify for authorization under the RGP, if issued.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The issuance of the RGP will not affect Federally-listed threatened and/or endangered species. The Corps will initiate any required consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for individual activities that may qualify for authorization under the RGP, if issued.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The issuance of the proposed RGP will have no effect on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Corps will initiate any required consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act for individual activities that may qualify for authorization under the RGP, if issued.
The above determinations are based on our preliminary review.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue the RGP will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the covered activities 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 proposed RGP, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposed RGP 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 RGPs 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 RGP. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue or modify the proposed RGP. 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-1997-00652 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 23, 2018.
Lisa Gibson, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposed RGPs 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 RGP. 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 Lisa Gibson, (916) 557-5288, Lisa.M.Gibson2@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: Proposed RGP 8 Emergency Repair and Protection Activities