Comments Period: December 1, 2014 – December 31, 2014
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Twitchell Island Levee Improvement project, which would result in impacts to approximately 30.6 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to the San Joaquin River. 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: Christopher Neudeck, Reclamation District 1601, 2360 West Twitchell Island Road, Rio Vista, California 94571
LOCATION: The 307.7-acre site is located on the Southern Twitchell Island Levees on the San Joaquin River and Three Mile Slough, in an unnumbered Section, Township 2 North Range 3 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 38.09861°, Longitude -121.66063°, Sacramento County, California, and can be seen on the Jersey Island and Bouldin Island USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant, RD 1601, proposes the following actions to improve levee stability, address overtopping and create wetland and aquatic habitat: (1) construct a foundation, toe berm and a new setback levee behind and adjacent to approximately 4 miles of the existing levee along the San Joaquin River reach; (2) raise the crown along nearly 0.5 mile of a previously-constructed setback levee within this reach, (3) install a sheet pile wall (approximately 900 feet long) in front of the existing pump station, (4) construct a dry-land levee across Chevron Point on the southwest corner of Twitchell Island, and (5) construct waterside habitat improvements along the San Joaquin River bank adjacent to the new setback levee which would create a mosaic of channel margin habitats, beneficial to native fish. Construction would occur on both the landside and waterside of existing levees and is expected to begin in 2015 and continue for approximately 10 construction seasons. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve Twitchell Island’s level of flood protection and create waterside habitat. The applicant believes there is a need to improve levee stability and relieve overtopping issues. Additionally the project would create close to four miles of channel margin habitat along the San Joaquin River. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 75.27 acres wetlands and other waters within the project area. These consist of 22.31 acres of tidal stream, 4.43 acres of ditches 36.10 acres of freshwater emergent wetlands. 5.50 acre of willow scrub wetlands, and 5.92 acres of forested wetlands. The site is characterized by fallow and active agricultural fields, irrigation/drainage ditches, wetlands and tidally influenced traditionally navigated streams (San Joaquin River and Three Mile Slough.
Alternatives. The applicant has not 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. Permanent impacts to waters of the United States are as follows:
• Ditches 2.3 acres
• Open water 0.2 acre
• Freshwater Marsh 15.2 acre
• Willow Scrub 2.2 acre
• Total temporary impacts 10.7 acres
• Total permanent impacts 19.9 acres
To mitigate for permanent impacts to WOUS the applicant has proposed to create 47.78 acres of mixed wetland and open water habitat (tule marsh, willow scrub and open water) abutting the San Joaquin River. This created wetland mitigation would constitute an approximately 2.35 acre creation to 1 acre impacted ratio for permanent impacts. To mitigate for temporary impacts the applicant has proposed the restoration to pre-project condition of all temporarily impacted WOUS. The above is the initial proposed mitigation detailed mitigation plan, in accordance with Corps guidelines, is in the process of being prepared by the applicant.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
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 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-2014-00921 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before December 31, 2014.
William Guthrie, 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 or the Corps' project manager William Guthrie, 916-557-5269, William.H.Guthrie@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 10 drawings