Comments Period: September 12 – September 26, 2019
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Northwest Levee Improvements and Stone Road Seepage Reduction Project, which would result in impacts to approximately 1.14 acres of Piper Slough, and 0.09 acre of a drainage ditch on the landside levee adjacent to Piper Slough. Both of these aquatic resources are waters of the United States. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. This notice may also be viewed at the Corps web site at www.spk.usace.army.mil/Media/RegulatoryPublicNotices.aspx.
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: Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District (BIMID)
Attn: Ms. Regina Espinoza
3085 Stone Road
Bethel Island, California 94511
LOCATION: The proposed project includes two sites on the island where improvements are proposed (Attached Figure 2). Site 1 is along the Taylor Slough levee on the northwest side of the island between BIMID levee stations 0+00 and 130+00, west of Bethel Island Road and north of Canal Road. Site 2 is between BIMID Sand Mound Slough levee stations 340+00 and 450+00 on the south side of the island along Windsweep and Stone Roads. Site 1 is adjacent to agricultural lands. With the exception of the Mariner Cove Marina, the unpaved levee access road and Sunset Drive, Site 1 is undeveloped. The west end of Site 2 is along Stone Road near Bethel Island Road and adjacent to the Delta Cove development and the east end is along Windsweep Road. Approximate center of the project area is Latitude 38.041450°, Longitude -121.660684°, Contra Costa County, California, and can be seen on the Jersey Island USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to correct levee deficiencies at Site 1, minimize seepage and reduce impacts to residents at Site 2, and create or enhance waterside and landside habitat to support fish and wildlife.
Two reaches of the Bethel Island levee system are included in the proposed project:
Site 1: Site 1 includes the northwest levee improvement component. This component encompasses an approximately 2.5-mile reach of Taylor Slough levee between stations 0+00 and 130+00 where improvements would be provided to meet Bulletin 192-82 standards. Along portions of the northwest levee, habitat enhancements are also proposed to create emergent aquatic vegetation (EAV) and woody or shaded riverine aquatic (SRA) habitat on the waterside as well as riparian forest and scrub shrub habitat on the landside.
Site 2: Site 2 includes levee seepage reduction improvements along Windsweep and Stone roads. This component encompasses an approximately 2-mile reach of Sand Mound Slough levee located along the southeast portion of the island between stations 340+00 and 450+00 where levee through and under seepage issues exist.
The applicant believes there is a need to meet Bulletin 192-82 (Delta Levees Investigation) criteria because of known deficiencies, including steep waterside slopes, active scour, through-seepage, and potentially liquefiable material. Additionally, the applicant believes there is a need for waterside and landside habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species which are declining throughout the Delta.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 74.24 acres of potentially jurisdictional waters of the United States within the project area (70.68 acres of slough (Piper Slough, Taylor Slough, Dutch Slough, Sand Mound Slough), and 3.65 acres of ditches). The site is characterized by sloughs and ditches, with uplands habitats that consist of willow scrub, blackberry, nonnative annuals grasses, agriculture, some residential developments and other types of land disturbances.
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. The Corps will work with the applicant on proposed mitigation through the permit process.
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 not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled Cultural Resources Report for Northwest Levee Improvements and Stone Road Levee Seepage Reduction Project, dated March 2019, one historic era built environment is located with the project’s boundary. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The Corps will initiate 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-2019-00598 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before September 26, 2019.
Chandra Jenkins, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Regulatory Division, California Delta Section
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 Jenkins, (916) 557-6652, Chandra.L.Jenkins@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: Figure 2: Project Location Map