Comment Period: August 3, 2022 – September 2, 2022
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge of dredged material in approximately 126.8 acres of waters of the United States to conduct the U.S. Magnesium Canal Extension project. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: U.S. Magnesium, Attn: Mr. Tim Gribben, 238 North 2200 West, Salt Lake City, UT, 84116
LOCATION: The approximately 130-acre project site is located in Gilbert Bay of the Great Salt Lake, near Latitude 40.957838°, Longitude -112.605741°, Tooele County, Utah, and can be seen on the Badger Island NW USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge dredged material into approximately 126.8 acres of lakebed associated with the removal of accumulated sediments from the existing P-0 and P-North Canals, and the extension of these canals to the lakebed contour of 4,185 feet via hydrologic suction dredge. The ongoing drought and historic low lake levels on the Great Salt Lake have isolated the existing two intake facilities from lake water such that neither is able to withdraw permitted amounts or operate at the minimum capacity to sustain the applicant’s industrial process.
The existing P-0 Canal is 2.6 miles long and would be extended an additional 3.0 miles, with a 40-foot bottom width and maximum top width of 62 feet. The existing P-North Canal is 1.1 miles long and would be extended an additional 0.7 mile, with a 40-foot bottom width and maximum top width of 55 feet. Both canals would maintain conveyance of lake water intake flows of 100,000 gallons per minute from the Great Salt Lake to the intake pump stations.
The applicant has indicated that the dredged material would be discharged in an aerial broadcast manner onto the adjacent lakebed within an approximately 125-foot-wide work area on either side of the canal and would not exceed 2 feet in height in order to mimic the natural lakebed variations. The placement of sediment slurry would include gaps in the adjacent berm to allow existing lakebed areas to remain connected when the Great Salt Lake water surface level rises. The applicant asserts that the project would result in minor lakebed elevation changes, but would not convert any lakebed area to uplands since all sidecast material would be underwater under normal lake levels.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to facilitate the continued industrial operations in light of historic low lake levels. The applicant believes there is a need to maintain and extend the existing intake canals to the lakebed contour of 4,185 feet, in order to be able to access lake brine to continue their mineral operations. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The project area consists of approximately 130 acres of open water and dry lakebed below the GSL ordinary high water mark of 4,200 feet. The site is characterized by shallow open water and hyper-saline dry lakebed, with no vegetation on site. Microbialites have been observed within or near both canal alignments, though the full extent is not well defined and has not been documented. No wetlands are present within or near the project area.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives, including facility modifications and the use of a floating pipe system. 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 applicant has proposed to minimize impacts by spreading the dredged material over the lakebed surface, between 0.5 and 2 feet in height, to mimic the natural topographic fluctuations of the lakebed. No waters of the U.S. would be converted to upland as a result of the project. To the maximum practicable extent, canal alignments and discharge areas would be adjusted to avoid microbialite impacts. Based on the above, no compensatory mitigation has been proposed by the applicant.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Utah Division of Water Quality is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: No information has been provided to date regarding the presence or absence of cultural resources within the project area. 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 project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
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-2008-01773 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before September 2, 2022.
Michael Pectol, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Bountiful Regulatory Office, 533 West 2600 South, Suite 150
Bountiful, Utah 84010
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 Mike Pectol, (801) 295-8380 ext. 8315, Michael.A.Pectol@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 7 drawings