Comments Period: May 28, 2015 – June 30, 2015
SUBJECT: On May 4, 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) issued a permit to the California Department of Water Resources under emergency procedures to construct the West False River Emergency Drought Barrier project. The project will result in impacts to approximately 2.65 acres of waters of the United States in West False River. This notice is to inform interested parties of the activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This work was authorized 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. The project was authorized under special processing procedures in emergency situation as described at 33 C.F.R Section 325.2(e)(4).
APPLICANT: California Department of Water Resources, Attn: Mr. Paul Marshall, 1416 9th Street, Room 215-37, Sacramento, California 95814-5511
LOCATION: The 2.65-acre site is located on West False River, in Section 24, Township 2 North, Range 2 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 38.05771°, Longitude -121.67156°, Contra Costa County, California, and can be seen on the CA-JERSEY ISLAND USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is constructing a salinity barrier to preserve water quality and protect municipal and agricultural water supplies. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to maintain water quality in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta (Delta) from drought related saltwater intrusion. DWR would construct a barrier approximately 800 feet long and up to 200 feet wide at the base, and 12 feet wide at the top. The toe fill will extend approximately 100 feet upstream and downstream of the barrier centerline. The top of the structure would be at an elevation of 7 feet across the entire crest. The barrier would include two king pile-supported sheet pile walls extending from each levee into the channel for a distance of 75 feet.
The project would impact approximately 2.65 acres of False River. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting: There are approximately 2.65-acres of open water channel within the project area. The site is characterized by tidally influenced open water channel with rip-rap protected levees on either bank. The project is located in rural Contra Costa County and adjacent land use includes agriculture, recreational boating marinas and rural housing.
Emergency Procedures: The Corps received DWR’s request to proceed with project construction under special processing procedures in emergency situation (33 C.F.R. § 325.2(e)(4)) on April 29, 2015. The Corps initiated these procedures immediately as increased salinity within the Delta posed an imminent threat to municipal and agricultural water supplies. Increase salinity in potable water could be potentially injurious to public health. Increased salinity in agricultural diversions could reduce or eliminate agricultural production. Additionally, salt water entering certain areas of the Delta would persist for an extended period and could prove detrimental to Delta water quality for years.
Alternatives: The applicant has not formally provided information concerning project alternatives. However, two alternatives to the project were proposed prior to the West False River Barrier project being selected. These alternatives included three barriers in total. Two northern barriers would have been constructed in either Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs or Steamboat and Miner Sloughs in addition with the West False River Barrier. Alternatives information to the proposed project to facilitate 404(b)(1) analysis is in the process of being prepared for submittal to the Corps.
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 mitigation at this time. However, project related impacts have been reduced by the removal of the two northern barriers from the project footprint. The original submittal for the Emergency Drought Barriers project proposed two alternatives both with three barriers. Both of these alternatives included the West False River Barrier adding barriers at either Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs or Steamboat and Miner Sloughs. The project with the Steamboat Slough and Sutter Slough Barriers would have impacted 3.89 acres of waters of the United States. The project with the Steamboat Slough and Miner Slough Barriers would have resulted 4.81 acres of impacts to waters of the United States.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the State Water Resources Control is required for this project. The applicant received Water Quality Certification on April 29, 2015.
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 initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), under emergency procedures on April 30, 2015. FWS and NMFS provided avoidance and minimization measures which were included in the emergency authorization. The Corps will initiate formal consultation with FWS and NMFS within 30 days of the close of public comments for this Public Notice pursuant to 50 C.F.R. § 402.05.
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.
The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2014-00187 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 30, 2015.
William Guthrie, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
California South Branch, 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: 3 drawings