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Public Notices

Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-2011-00873 - Fresno and Madera Counties, California

Published Nov. 14, 2012
Expiration date: 11/28/2012


SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Arroyo Canal Fish Screen and Sack Dam Fish Passage Project, which would result in permanent impacts to approximately 1.09 acres and temporary impacts to 3.62 acres of waters of the United States, including some wetlands, in and adjacent to the San Joaquin River, Poso Canal, and Arroyo Canal. These features are all considered jurisdictional waters of the United States. 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 under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

APPLICANT: Michelle Banonis
Bureau of Reclamation
San Joaquin River Program
2800 Cottage Way, MP-170
Sacramento, California 95825
(916) 978-5457

LOCATION: The approximately 23.0-acre project site is located on the San Joaquin River, Arroyo Canal, and Poso Canal in Section 12, Township 11 South, Range 13 East, MDB&M, Latitude 36.9834179117563°, Longitude -120.500552746692°, Fresno and Madera Counties, California, and can be seen on the CA-Poso Farm USGS 7.5’ Topographic Quadrangle. This project additionally covers approximately 3.0 miles of the maintenance road for Arroyo Canal to the west of the main project site for a borrow area for the project. This borrow area will not result in any impacts to waters of the United States while the top portion of the canal levee road is removed for fill for a portion of the construction of this project.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve fish passage and revegetate the eastern bank of this reach of the San Joaquin River. This project is one component in the overall San Joaquin River Restoration Program. The applicant is proposing this project because they believe there is a need to ensure the restoration of the fishery of the San Joaquin River. The proposed project includes the following actions:

1. Construct a new Sack Dam to accommodate fish passage and improve operational control under the scheduled Restoration Flow regime.

2. Demolish the existing Sack Dam structure, and recontour the resulting disturbed channel.

3. Provide stabilization improvements to the east side of the San Joaquin River channel between the east abutment of Sack Dam and the adjacent levee.

4. Construct a new 700-cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) positive barrier fish screen structure within the Arroyo Canal in a single vee configuration with profile bar screens. The fish screen would be designed to meet the criteria and guidelines issued by California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and NOAA–National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which are generally supported by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

5. Construct a new trash-rack structure at the head of the Arroyo Canal, upstream of the new fish screen structure, with an automated raking mechanism.

6. Construct a new transport channel/fish ladder, beginning at the downstream end of the vee screen and terminating at the west abutment of Sack Dam. The transport channel/fish ladder would convey downstream migrating fish and accommodate upstream migrating fish past Sack Dam.

7. Construct a defined work bench area adjacent to the west abutment of Sack Dam to facilitate operation and maintenance access to the dam and the Arroyo Canal approach channel.

8. Construct a new control building to accommodate mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation and control equipment related to Proposed Action improvements.

9. Construct a new equipment storage building to accommodate maintenance equipment related to proposed Action improvements.

10. Replace an existing bridge across the Poso Canal (located immediately north of the Arroyo Canal) to accommodate project operation and maintenance equipment access needs.

11. Construct a new bridge across the Poso Canal to facilitate site access from Valeria Avenue during inclement weather conditions. This bridge would also be designed to accommodate project operation and maintenance equipment.

The applicant proposes to construct sheet piling coffer dams around the new Sac Dam site, trash rack, and fish screen area to keep flows from the San Joaquin River out of the work area while the project is being built. These sheet pilings will function as a stabilizing cut off wall for support for these features. Once the project construction is completed these in-stream cut off walls will be cut off and removed at bed level and be capped in place. The applicant proposes to begin construction in early 2013 and complete the project by September 2014. The western bank of the project between the Poso Canal and the low flow channel of the new Sack Dam is not proposed to be revegetated, but stabilized with ungrouted rip-rap.

This project will result in the permanent filling of 1.09 acres of waters of the United States which includes direct impacts to 0.81 acres of the San Joaquin River below the Ordinary High Water Mark, 0.25 acres of plaustrine-forested/scrub-shrub habitat, and 0.03 acres of Poso Canal. Additionally, this project proposes 3.62 acres of direct temporary impacts to waters of the United States including 3.58 acres of plaustrine-forested/scrub-shrub wetland habitat, and 0.04 acres of impacts to the San Joaquin River below the Ordinary High Water Mark. The project proposes to use 2,982 cubic yards of fill including rip-rap to complete the project at the following locations:

Sack Dam:

a) 1,415 cubic yards of 1/4 ton size rip-rap
b) 301 cubic yards of 1 ton size rip-rap
c) 780 cubic yards of backing material (put down as a base)
d) 1,904 square feet of fabric formed concrete mat

East Embankment & West Levee:

a) 180 cubic yards of ¼ ton size rip-rap
b) 92 cubic yards of backing material (put down as a base)
c) 1,466 square feet of fabric formed concrete mat

Poso Canal

a) 54 cubic yards of ¼ ton sized rip-rap

Fish Ladder

a) 160 cubic yards of Fish Rock

See the design drawings for additional project details.


Environmental Setting. The project site is approximately 23.0 acres in size. Waters of the United States within this area include total approximately 15.88 acres made up of 4.73 acres of palustrine-forested/scrub-shrub wetlands, 2.05 acres of lower perennial riverine both of these categories are portions of the San Joaquin River. Additionally, there are approximately 0.63 acres of Arroyo Canal and 1.06 acres of Poso Canal within the project area. The project site also contains an additional 3.0 miles of upland levee road adjacent to the Arroyo Canal that may be used as a borrow site for the construction of this project. The project site is at approximately 125’ in elevation, the San Joaquin River is surrounded by levees, canals, and agricultural fields.

Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning alternative project designs; however, the project location cannot change in order to obtain the project’s objective of building a fish screen at Arroyo Canal on the San Joaquin River at Sack Dam. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternative designs 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 restore the banks of the San Joaquin River and revegetate the area with native plants. This project includes the construction of a fish screen to reduce the impacts to fisheries in the area and allow for the regulation of the river’s flow. Therefore, with the revegetation of the site this project is considered self-mitigating.

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. A Streambed Alteration Agreement from the California Department of Fish and Game is also necessary for this project. The applicant has not indicated if they have applied for certification.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. The applicant is the federal lead for this project and with coordination of 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 applicant as the federal lead agency in coordination with 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 applicant, as the federal lead agency, in coordination with 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-2011-00873 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before November 28, 2012.

Kathy Norton, 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, the applicant’s consultant, John Schoonover of CH2MHILL at 530-229-3305, or the Corps' project manager Kathy Norton, 916-557-5260,

Attachments: 15 drawings