Comments Period: 29 January 2015 – 13 February 2015
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for a portion of the Log Cabin & Our House Diversion Dams Sediment Management project, which would result in sluicing approximately 8.13 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands for the two reservoirs. The proposed fill location of the sluiced sediment is just downstream of the two reservoirs covering approximately 1.52 acres of waters of the United States. The Our House Diversion Dam is on the Middle Yuba River and the Log Cabin Diversion Dam is on Oregon Creek. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Yuba County Water Agency (Mr. Geoff Rabone), 1220 F Street, Marysville, California 95901-4740
LOCATION: The project has two project sites which combined for a total of 9.65 acres in size. The Our House site is located on the Middle Yuba River in Section 20, Township 18 North, Range 9 East, MDB&M, Latitude 39.41257°, Longitude -120.99568°, Sierra and Nevada Counties, California, and can be seen on the CA-Pike USGS Topographic Quadrangle. The Log Cabin site is located on Oregon Creek in Section 11, Township 18 North, Range 8 East, MDB&M, Latitude 39.44031°, Longitude -121.05854°, Yuba County, California, and can be seen on the CA-Camptonville USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to remove sediment by sluicing to reduce the sediment load of Log Cabin Diversion Dam Reservoir and Our House Diversion Dam Reservoir. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to remove the sediment, thus allowing the reservoirs to maintain the water storage volume and valves accessible to pass required bypass flows for fisheries later in the year. Additionally, this project proposes to improve the downstream waterways by increasing the sediment load of the channel that is normally obstructed by the dams. The applicant believes there is a need to remove this sediment to ensure that the reservoirs operate appropriately including allowing the lower discharge valves to pass the appropriate bypass flows as required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The applicant is asking to remove up to 150,000 cubic yards of sediment for Our House Diversion Dam Reservoir and up to 15,700 cubic yards for the Log Cabin Diversion Dam Reservoir. It is estimated that during sluicing operations that the sediment will be deposited immediately downstream of the Log Cabin Diversion Dam in the first 0.61 acres of Oregon Creek and for the Our House Diversion Dam the sediment will settle out within the first 0.91 acres of the Middle Yuba River. Sluicing season is identified as November 1st to March 15th when appropriate flow levels have been reached and for each reservoir. Sluicing would be scheduled to occur for a continuous 96-hour period, and be monitored during business hours. The applicant hopes to sluice each reservoir at least annually for the life of the five-year permit. Although disturbance to waters of the United States is proposed for this project the surface area of waters of the United States is not expected to decrease with the materialization of this project; therefore, the applicant is not offering any mitigation for this project. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The project is located in the Tahoe National Forest at approximately 2,000-foot elevation. Both sites are located in coniferous forests that are in association with New Bullards Bar Reservoir. There are approximately 2.74 acres of waters of the United States within the project boundary for the Log Cabin site. This includes approximately 2.13 acres of reservoir and 0.61 acres of Oregon Creek downstream of the dam. There are approximately 6.91 acres of waters of the United States within the project boundary for the Our House site. This includes approximately 6.00 acres of reservoir and 0.91 acres of Middle Yuba River downstream of the dam. These sites are identified in the attached drawings.
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. The applicant was given a permit to remove sediment in these reservoirs by mechanical means in September 2014. 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 any mitigation for this project at this time. The applicant states that the sluicing of the sediment downstream will make for a more natural condition to the waterways by allowing the sediment to flow downstream thus improving the habitat. The applicant believes this is better than leaving the sediment to build-up behind the dams. Therefore, the applicant currently hasn’t offered any compensation for this project.
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. The applicant has applied for certification. A license has been obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and a new license is being processed for this project (FERC Project Number 2246). The applicant must obtain approval from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as well for a Streambed Alteration Agreement. In September of 2014 the applicant received an Individual Permit from the Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, to remove sediment from Log Cabin Diversion Reservoir and Our House Diversion Reservoir for five years.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report entitled Cultural Resources Investigation for the Log Cabin and Our House Diversion Dams Sediment Management Plan for the Yuba River Development Project [FERC Project No. 2246], Nevada, Yuba, and Sierra Counties, California), a few cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect. The Corps in coordination with FERC will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project is not expected to affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. 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. The applicant is working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for possible project concerns to state listed species for this project.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project will not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. 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-2014-00703 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before February 13, 2015.
Kathy Norton, Sr. 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 at 530-741-6278, the applicant’s consultant Ms. Robin Kent, HDR, Inc., at 916-679-8733, or the Corps' project manager Ms. Kathy Norton, 916-557-5260, Kathy.Norton@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 5 drawings