SUBJECT: Application for a Department of the Army permit under authority of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the reauthorization of an existing permit to construct the Temporary Barriers Project in the south delta for the next 5 years, as shown in the attached drawings. The proposed project would result in impacts to approximately 1.33 acres of waters of the United States.
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: Katherine Kelly, California Department of Water Resources, 1416 9th Street,
Room 215-37, Sacramento, California 94236-0001
LOCATION: The three separate temporary barriers are proposed at the following locations:
1) Middle River (MR) barrier is located near Victoria Canal, about 0.5 miles south of the confluence of Middle River, Trapper Slough, and North Canal, between Middle Roberts Island and Union Island, in Section 36, Township 1 North, Range 4 East, M.D.B.& M., San Joaquin County, California.
2) Old River at Tracy (ORT) barrier is located near the Tracy Pumping Plant, approximately 0.5 miles east of the Delta Mendota Canal (DMC), between Fabian Tract and the mainland, in Section 33, Township 1 South, Range 4 East, M.D.B.& M., San Joaquin County, California.
3) Grant Line Canal (GLC) barrier is located 420 feet east of the Tracy Boulevard Bridge, between Union Island and Fabian Tract, in Section 29, Township 1 South, Range 5 East, M.D.B.& M., San Joaquin County, California.
PURPOSE: The applicant has stated that the project purpose is to provide an adequate supply of agricultural water in terms of quantity, quality, and channel water levels, to meet the reasonable and beneficial needs of water users in the South Delta Water Agency (SDWA).
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The project consists of constructing three separate temporary rock barriers in the south delta during the 2013 through 2017 irrigation seasons. All of the barriers would be composed of rock which is clean, hard, dense, and free from cracks, seams, and other defects that could deteriorate from natural causes. The Temporary Barriers Project (TBP) -Agricultural Barriers (Ag Barriers) includes the annual construction, maintenance and removal of the MR, ORT, and GLC rock barriers. The design of the 2013–2017 Ag Barriers would be essentially the same as in years past. However, the department of Water Resources (DWR) may require modification of the weir height of the MR barrier (MRB) during some years of the permit, as was done in summer 2010 and 2012. If implemented, and after concerns for impacts to delta smelt in the south Delta have passed, the height of the MRB weir would be increased by 1 foot from the current design elevation of 3.3 feet to an elevation of 4.3 feet based on the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). The attached figures provide additional project information
ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFORMATION:
Middle River Barrier
The MRB is located about a half mile south of the confluence of Middle River, Trapper Slough, and North Canal. The MRB is a rock barrier constructed with a center weir section that allows tidal flows to enter the Middle River upstream of the barrier by overtopping the weir crest and flowing through submerged culverts (Figure 3). The tidal flow is retained behind the barrier in part during the ebb tide by the barrier elevation and the closure of the flap-gates. This allows agricultural pumps to operate throughout each tidal cycle by maintaining a minimum water elevation of 2.6 feet (NAVD88) measured at the Howard Road Bridge station.
Each year the MRB weir section is reconstructed by placing approximately 2,300 cubic yards (cy) of rock between the two previously constructed abutments that are left in place year-round. Each abutment has three, 48-inch diameter culverts with tidally-operated flap-gates that are also left in place. Placement of rock completes the barrier that is 270-feet long and 50 feet-wide (0.31 acre). The rock weir section is 140-feet long and 18-feet wide at its crest. By September 15th, a 10 foot-wide notch (fall notch) is constructed in the weir for salmon passage. The notch allows a minimum depth of 6 inches of water to pass over the barrier during low-high tide events and shall remain in place until the barrier is removed.
DWR retains the option to raise the height of the MRB during peak irrigation months; the height of the weir may be increased from 3.3 (typical) to 4.3 feet (NAVD88). Raising the barrier height one foot will require an additional 100 cy of rock and will reduce the width of the crest to 15 feet. However, it is expected that this will result in little, if any, disturbance to the riverbed or channel and there will be no change in the footprint of the MRB. The MRB will only be raised when risks to delta smelt have passed and full barrier operations are allowed by the USFWS and DFG.
The center weir section of the MRB is removed during the non-irrigation season (December through March). The flap-gates are tied open when the center weir section is removed. The fall notch in the MRB will remain the same elevation regardless of the 1 foot increase in weir height. The notch will be 10 feet wide and at an elevation of 2.6 feet (NAVD88).
While the culverts are left in place for most years, periodic culvert replacement (every 10-15 years) may occur in order to ensure their functionality.
Old River Tracy
The ORT barrier is located near the CVP’s Tracy fish screen facility on Old River, approximately 0.5 miles east of the CVP’s inlet. The structure allows tidal flows to enter the channel upstream of the barrier by overtopping the weir crest and flowing through the submerged culverts. The tidal flow is then partially retained during the ebb tide by the barrier elevation and the closure of tidal flap-gates on the upstream side of each culvert.
Each year construction of the ORT barrier begins with placement of a rock and gravel pad followed by the placement of three metal culvert frames each containing three 48-inch diameter culverts (nine culverts total) with flap-gates on the prepared pad. The culverts are then covered with approximately 5,000 cy of rock to form a 250-foot long berm that is 60 feet wide at its base (0.34 acre) (Figures 4a and 4b). The center of the barrier has a 75-foot wide weir with a crest elevation of 4.4 feet based on the NAVD88. Beneath the weir, are the nine culverts, each 60 feet long and 1 foot apart, with tidally activated flap-gates on the upstream ends. During summer months, some of the flap-gates may be tied to the open position to improve circulation in this area. Tying the flap gates open in conjunction with the Middle River raise is intended to increase net downstream flow and reduces stagnant zones in Old River. A temporary boat ramp will be constructed with riprap at the base, followed by crushed rock, and topped with articulated concrete mats. Because much of the boat ramp structure will be underwater, divers will aid in the positioning of the concrete mats. The boat portage facility will be available from 8AM to 6PM during weekdays and from 7AM to 7PM on weekends. Similarly to the MRB, a 10 foot-wide notch is constructed by September 15 each fall to allow adult salmon passage and the barrier will be removed during the non-irrigation season (December through March).
Grant Line Canal
Each year the GLC barrier is constructed with approximately 12,600 cy of rock that is placed between the existing south abutment and the north canal bank to create a 300-foot long barrier that is up to 100 feet wide at its base 0.68 (Figures 5a and 5b). The center of the barrier has a weir section with a crest at 3.3 feet elevation (NAVD88) that is 125 feet long and 24 feet wide. The existing south abutment contains six 48-inch diameter, 60-foot long culverts with flap-gates on the upstream end. A catwalk structure is affixed to the top of each culvert with a winch and hand crank allowing access to and operation of the flap-gates attached to the upstream end of each culvert. A 10 foot wide flashboard structure is also built at the south abutment, which can be adjusted to allow delta smelt passage in spring and salmon passage in the fall. Similarly to the ORT barrier, a ramped boat portage facility is also provided at the north levee. The boat ramp is constructed with riprap at the base, followed by crushed rock, and topped with articulated concrete mats. Because much of the boat ramp structure will be underwater, divers will aid in the positioning of the concrete mats. The boat portage facility will be available from 6AM to 8PM, seven days a week.
Similarly to the MRB, the center section of the barrier will be removed during the non-irrigation season (December through March).
While the culverts are left in place for most years, periodic culvert replacement (every 10-15 years) may occur in order to ensure their functionality.
On February 13, 1998, the Corps issued public notice 199600027/199800015 stating that the HOR Barrier would be administratively separated from the three agricultural barriers. The PN indicated that these barriers would be evaluated as separate projects under separate Department of the Army permits and these projects have been evaluated separately since.
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. DWR purchased 6.0 acres of shallow water habitat credits for the TBP. DWR utilized a credit of 1.25 acres left over from the Kimball Island Mitigation Bank and an additional 4.75 acres of shallow water habitat credits was purchased at the Liberty Island Conservation Bank.
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, Central Valley Region is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The HOR barrier is within designated critical habitat for federally listed fish species. This project may affect delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Central Valley spring-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and Green Sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). On November 20, 2012, the Corps initiated consultation for the above species and their designated critical habitat with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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-2001-00121 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before December 29, 2012.
William Guthrie, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers,
Sacramento District, Regulatory Division 1325 J Street, Room1480
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 beheld 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 William Guthrie, 916-557-5269, William.H.Guthrie@usace.army.mil.
Attached 7 Figures.