Comment Period: October 3, 2023 – November 2, 2023
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge dredged or fill material and work in approximately 2.75 acres of waters of the United States (WOUS) to construct the
West False River Drought Salinity Barrier project. 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: The California Department of Water Resources
Attn: Mr. Robert Trang
1516 9th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
LOCATION: The approximately 22-acre project site is located on West False River, approximately 0.4 mile upstream of the confluence with the San Joaquin River,
Latitude 38.057710°, Longitude -121.671560°, Contra Costa County, California, and can be seen on the Jersey Island USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is proposing to discharge fill material into approximately 2.75 acres of the West False River to construct a rock salinity barrier to preserve water quality and protect municipal and agricultural water supplies.
The applicant’s primary objectives of the proposed action are as follows:
- Install a drought salinity barrier to help reserve impounded water for health, safety, and regulatory uses and protect water quality in the central Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta (Delta), based on need demonstrated by drought conditions and low upstream reservoir storage.
- Install a drought salinity barrier in the central Delta up to two times over 10 years, including consecutive years, should a drought occur during the period from
2025 to 2034.
- Minimize the impacts of salinity intrusion on the beneficial uses of central Delta water during persistent drought conditions through the installation of a drought salinity barrier in the central Delta.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to maintain water quality and protect beneficial uses of water in the Delta from drought related saltwater intrusion.
The DWR would construct a rock barrier across West False River between Jersey and Bradford Islands. The barrier would be approximately 800 feet long and up to 200 feet wide at the base, and 12 feet wide at the top. The top of the structure would be at an elevation of 7 feet msl across the entire crest. The project would discharge fill material into approximately 2.75 acres of West False River. The proposed project would also include float lines, signs, and warning buoys on both sides of the barrier.
The proposed barrier would be installed no sooner than April 1, and removed by November 30 of the subsequent year. Alternatively, removal may occur by
November 30 of the same year if DWR determines that the barrier is no longer needed based on hydrologic conditions. The barrier may be installed up to two times over
10 years, including consecutive years, if a drought occurs during 2025–2034 and drought conditions and low upstream reservoir storage indicate that a barrier in
West False River would be an effective tool for reducing saltwater intrusion into the Delta.
The proposed action also includes the possible placement of a notch in the middle portion of the barrier in early January of the second year of each barrier installation, to allow fish passage and vessel navigation through West False River. The notch would be backfilled as early as the first week of April. DWR would consider information available at the time of potential notch placement to decide whether a notch should be placed. The barrier notch would be approximately 400 feet wide with an invert at -12 feet NAVD88 with a 3:1 slope. Notching of the barrier would take one to two weeks.
Construction activities at the barrier location would begin no sooner than April 1 and would continue for up to 45 working days. Transit to and from stockpile locations and mobilization may occur before April 1. Construction activities may be conducted on a 24-hour basis as needed.
The applicant is also proposing to install 3 water quality and flow stations to evaluate how the barrier affects flow, water quality, and biological constituents in the Central and North Delta. One station would be in Woodward Cut and two would be in Railroad Cut. The stations would be installed on three new 12-inch-diameter steel pipe piles. First, the piles would be driven to a maximum depth of up to 40 feet, using a vibratory pile driver. The water quality and flow monitoring equipment would then be mounted on the piles. Navigational aids would be installed at the stations as needed. The stations would be able to monitor electrical conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, nutrients, bromide, and organic carbon, and would be left in place after removal of the drought salinity barrier. Table 1 below summarizes proposed work in and discharges to WOUS.
Structure/fill in WOUS
Floating warning sign
Flow monitoring equipment pile
12-inch diameter, 60-foot-long steel pipe
Navigational ball floats
3,600 linear feet
Concrete and steel anchor block
2.5 ft. x 2.5 ft. x 1.25 ft. concrete and steel anchor block placed every 100 linear feet along the ball float lines. One anchor block per warning buoy. Two anchor blocks per each floating warning sign
2.75 acres of temporary fill. When the structure is notched, approximately 13,000 CY material would be temporarily removed.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 30 acres of perennial river within the project area. The site is characterized by tidally influenced open water channel with rip-rap protected levees on both banks. The project is located in rural Contra Costa County and adjacent land use includes agriculture, recreational boating marinas, and rural housing.
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. The applicant has not proposed compensatory mitigation.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have not applied for certification yet.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: 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/or 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-2014-00187 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before
November 2, 2023.
Kaitlyn Ames, Senior Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
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 Kaitlyn Ames, (312) 579-5605, Kaitlyn.A.Ames@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: Drawings and Figures