SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is re-evaluating and proposing to combine the previous Regional General Permits (RGP) 63 and 64. This single GP would authorize activities undertaken, assisted, authorized, regulated, funded, or financed, in whole or in part, by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) in Lake Mead and Glen Canyon National Recreation Areas that are categorically excluded from further environmental documentation in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality Regulation for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)[40 CFR part 1500 et sea.). These activities are within a category of actions would neither individually nor cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments on the attached draft permit.
The proposed RGP is intended to be used to streamline the application and permitting process for the NPS (Lake Mead and Glen Canyon National Recreational Area), who must obtain a Department of Army (DA) Permit before discharging dredged or fill materials into waters of the U.S. for categorically excluded activities. This RGP would be applicable to waters of the U.S., limited to jurisdictional streams, drainage ditches and Section 10 waterways (Colorado River, Lakes Powell, Mead and Mojave) within the national park boundaries.
The RGP 63 expired on October 1, 2009. The District Engineer initially issued GP 63 on October 1, 2004. The District Engineer has revised the procedures, terms and conditions set forth in the GP. The proposed revised permit is available to the public and resource agencies for comment before a final decision is made concerning any GP revisions. The new Regional General Permit (RGP) 63 will also replace the RGP 64 that expired on January 25, 2012 for Lake Powell, which authorized the same suite of activities for the NPS authorized under RGP 63.
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.
Location: This RGP pertains to all jurisdictional waters within Lake Mead and Glen Canyon National Recreation Areas.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The RGP 6 is a modification of the previous versions of RGP 63 issued on October 1, 2004, (Corps Public Notice No. 200450130) and RGP 64 issued on January 25, 2007, and is intended to authorize dredge and fill activities associated with categorically excluded activities within the national recreation areas. The proposed RGP 6 is also intended to streamline the permitting process for routine maintenance activities, provide mitigation certainty for new construction projects, and authorize minor impact activities which do not qualify for issuance under a Nationwide Permit. Activities that would qualify for processing through the proposed RGP 6 are dredge and fill activities resulting in unavoidable relatively minor impacts and, therefore, do not warrant more detailed processing.
Proposed Changes to the expired RGP 63 and 64:
The proposed changes in the new permit include the consolidation of all waters within the boundaries of the Lake Powell and Lake Mead National Recreation Areas under this proposed GP. In the past, two separate GPs existed which authorized the NPS to conduct the same suite of activities at Lakes Powell and Mead. Consolidation of these two GPs is being proposed under this evaluation process. Additionally, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (LMNRA) is divided between Los Angeles and Sacramento Districts’ administrative boundaries. These two districts previously agreed that Sacramento District would regulate activities occurring below the ordinary high water mark of Lake Mead but excluded its tributaries and all of Lake Mojave. On April 10, 2013, the Sacramento and Los Angeles Districts signed an agreement that assigns Sacramento as the Lead District to administer the Clean Water Act Regulatory Program within the entire LMNRA boundaries which includes both lakes and their surface tributary system. This GP proposes to reflect these changes.
The Corps has added a definition of the ordinary high water mark that should clarify issues regarding lowering lake levels. The Corps recommends the use of “A field guide to the identification of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) in the arid west region of the western United States” in conjunction with past and present elevation levels found at: http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/mead-elv.html. The information can be found for Lake Powell at: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/crsp/GetSiteInfo.
The Corps has added and clarified a number of additional activities that would qualify for routine maintenance activities that would not require notification from the Corps to proceed.
The Corps has added language that clarifies what a “complete application” should contain.
Lake Mead and Mohave
Three of the nation's four desert ecosystems (the Mohave, the Great Basin, and the Sonoran Desert) meet in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Lake Mead was created behind Hoover Dam in 1935 and filled completely in 1941. Lake Mohave was created and filled behind Davis Dam in the 1950s. At full pool, Lake Mead has a surface area of 157,900 acres with over 700 miles of shoreline, and Lake Mohave has a surface area of 28,260 acres and 150 miles of shoreline. The area is a regionally and nationally important resource for water-related recreation and other important uses, including hydropower and water supply. Portions of the recreation area, including a 300-foot zone around the shoreline of both lakes, are jointly administered by the National Park Service for recreation and resource protection and by the Bureau of Reclamation for project purposes and security areas at and around Hoover and Davis dams.
Lake Powell was created as a result of the construction of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in 1965. It is located in northern Arizona and southern Utah within the Colorado Plateau physiographic province. The reservoir reached full pool level, 3,700 AMSL (above mean sea level), in 1980. Glen Canyon Dam is the only major dam on the main stem of the Colorado River above Lee's Ferry and it controls almost all the flow leaving the upper Colorado River Basin. At full pool the reservoir extends more than 180 miles upstream from the dam near Page, Arizona into Cataract Canyon, Utah. Hite Marina, which is about 140 miles upstream, is the farthest developed area from Glen Canyon Dam. Figure 1 shows the location of the seven developed areas on Lake Powell. At full pool the reservoir has more than 1,900 miles of shoreline and stores 27 million acre feet of water that is used for irrigation, conservation storage, recreation, and electrical production.
The water level in Lake Powell drops during summer and fall as the dam releases water for use downstream. The reservoir is usually replenished by spring snowmelt. Recent drought conditions have significantly reduced the reservoir water levels beyond typical levels. Between 1999 and 2004 the average annual water level dropped over 100 feet. Five years of drought coupled with inlet sedimentation have resulted in new and significant challenges for managing recreational activities and facilities at Lake Powell. The amount and complexity of facilities on the lake require almost constant reconfiguration and/or relocation due to the fluctuations in water level described above, most of which occur below the ever-changing ordinary high water mark (OHWM). The facility reconfiguration and/or relocation is to accommodate increased visitation and associated usage, as well as, extreme water elevation fluctuations.
Alternatives. The no action alternative would mean that individual Department of the Army permit would be processed and issued for activities covered by the proposed RGP. Another alternative would be the inclusion of U.S. National Park Service categorically excluded activities within nationwide permit number 23. However, this alternative would have to be accomplished by the Office of the Chief of Engineers (OCE) in Washington, DC and therefore, is not within the purview of the Sacramento District. There is not any indication that OCE plans to modify nationwide permit to include NPS's categorically excluded activities. This nationwide permit is scheduled for regular reconsideration in 2017.
Mitigation. Specific proposals to perform work under the proposed RGP would be reviewed by the Corps before giving notice that the specific proposal is authorized by the RGP. The Corps requires consideration and use of all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. If an applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation on a case-by-case basis.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the states of Arizona, Utah and Nevada is required for this RGP. The Sacramento District will request certification from these states under separate cover.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Issuance of this RGP would not affect cultural resources. Specific requests to perform work under this general permit will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for any effects on cultural resources and appropriate consultation with the respective State Historic Preservation Officers under Section 106 of the National Preservation Act. In most instances, the U.S. National Park Service may act as lead agency for purposes of compliance with Section 106.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Issuance of the RGP would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Specific requests to perform work under this RGP will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for any effects to Federally-protected species and appropriate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. In most instances, the U.S. National Park Service may act as lead agency for purposes of compliance with Section 7.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue this RGP 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 action. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny the RGP. 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-2004-50130 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before October 14, 2003.
Patricia McQueary, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
196 E. Tabernacle Street Room #30, Saint George, Utah 84770
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 Patricia Mcqueary, 435-986-3979, Patricia.L.McQueary@usace.army.mil.
Proposed Permit, includes 2 maps of project area and 401 Water Quality Certification from the State of Arizona