Comments Period: August 13, 2019 – September 11, 2019
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, which would result in permanent impacts to approximately 326.08 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, and temporary impacts to approximately to 44.72 acres in and adjacent to San Joaquin River and within the Mendota Pool area. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. This project is part of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.
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: Bureau of Reclamation
Attn: Mr. Donald Portz
San Joaquin River Restoration
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, California 95825-1898
LOCATION: The approximately 5,610.66-acre project site is located within the San Joaquin River, and the Mendota Pool. The site is located within Sections 15 - 29, Townships 13 South, Range 15 East, MDB&M, Latitude 36.78021°, Longitude -120.32983°, Madera and Fresno Counties, California, and can be seen on the Firebaugh, Mendota Dam, and Tranquility USGS Topographic Quadrangles.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a flow improvement project on the San Joaquin River. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve the flow capacity of the San Joaquin River and the ability for fish to pass through this reach of the river. The applicant believes there is a need for this project. The project proposes to permanently impact 113.54 acres of wetlands and 212.54 acres of other waters of the United States with the construction of this project. This project additionally proposes to temporarily impact 19.23 acres of wetlands and 44.72 acres of other waters of the United States during the construction process. The main elements of this project include:
1. Building setback levees capable of conveying flows up to 4,500 cubic feet per second with three feet of freeboard, and breaching portions of the existing levees. 2. Restoring floodplain habitat with an average width of approximately 4,200 feet to provide benefit to salmonids and other native fishes. 3. Constructing a channel and structures capable of conveying up to 4,500 cfs of Restoration Flows around the Mendota Pool. 4. Constructing structures capable of conveying up to 2,500 cfs from Reach 2B to Mendota Pool. This project includes a fish passage structure within the Compact Bypass Control Structure which will be part of the San Joaquin River. The attached table and drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. On-site there are approximately 41.0 acres of lacustrine wetlands; 47.0 acres of palustrine, emergent persistent wetlands; 114.0 acres of palustrine, forested, broad-leaved deciduous wetlands; 72.0 acres of palustrine, scrub-shrub, broad-leaved deciduous wetlands; and 3.0 acres of riverine, intermittent, unconsolidated shore vegetation wetlands. Additionally, there are 224.0 acres of lacustrine, limnetic, unconsolidated bottom, mud waters; 152.0 acres of riverine, intermittent, unconsolidated bottom, sand waters; and 23.0 acres of riverine, lower perennial, unconsolidated bottom, sand waters within the project area.
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. Mitigation is proposed to be created on-site with the construction of this project. The applicant with the construction of this project is expecting to create 1,064.0 acres of wetlands, 1,499.0 acres of other waters of the United States, and 354.0 acres of non-jurisdictional riparian habitat on-site.
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.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. The applicant, as the federal lead agency, will ensure that consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, is conducted as appropriate. The Corps shall ensure that this consultation will meet the needs of the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act process as well.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The applicant, as the federal lead agency, will ensure that consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to the Federal Endangered Species Act, is conducted as appropriate. The Corps shall ensure that this consultation will meet the needs of the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act process as well.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. The applicant, as the federal lead agency, will ensure that consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, is conducted as appropriate. The Corps shall ensure that this consultation will meet the needs of the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act process as well.
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 September 11, 2019.
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, Mr. Andrew Minks, (916) 978-5504, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Corps' project manager Ms. Kathy Norton, (916) 557-5260, email@example.com.
Attachments: 9 drawings and 2 tables