Comments Period: July 26, 2015– August 25, 2015
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Solitude Reservoir project, which would result in impacts to approximately 1.48 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in and adjacent to North East Creek.
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: Mr. Ronald Tipping, 1967 Broadway, Grand Junction, Colorado 81507
Phone: 970-243-2599, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Bruce Marvin, Western Engineers, Incorporated, 2150 Highway 6 and 50, Grand Junction, Colorado 81504
Phone: 970-242-5202, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LOCATION: The 5-acre site is located on North East Creek approximately 10 miles upstream from the confluence with East Creek within the NE ¼ SW ¼ of Section 35, Township 13 South, Range 101 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Latitude 38.87747°, Longitude -108.65064°, Glade Park , Mesa County, Colorado, and can be seen on the CO-GLADE PARK USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT NEED AND PURPOSE: The applicant’s stated project need is to provide 46.2 acre-feet of additional firm water supply for use as supplemental irrigation and/or irrigation of newly irrigated lands. A secondary benefit of the project would improve fish habitat in the segment of North East Creek between the upstream King Lake and the proposed Solitude Reservoir, and provide fish habitat in the proposed Solitude Reservoir. The proposed project will improve habitat in two ways: a) Provide additional fish conservation pool on the main stem of North East Creek (in Solitude Reservoir) which meets the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife guidelines to prevent winterkill. The location of this conservation pool must be at or downstream from the proposed Solitude Reservoir in order to facilitate improving fish habitat in the segment of stream between King Lake and the proposed Solitude Reservoir site; and b) Provide facilities required to increase in-stream flows (by pump-back circulation) in the stream segment between King Lake and the proposed Solitude Reservoir site during low-flow summer periods. The pump-back pool must be located in the vicinity of the proposed Solitude Lake. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to provide agricultural irrigation water for the Tippings Ranch. An analysis of 97 years of runoff in the North East Creek basin indicated that, for the existing irrigated lands and the proposed newly irrigated lands, there is an average annual irrigation supply deficit of 3,907 acre-feet. Maintaining a fishery in the segment of stream between King Lake and the proposed Solitude Reservoir is currently impossible because the stream frequently drops to very low flow levels in summer months and, in some years completely dries up. Note that the hydrologic analysis also included estimating the reduction in runoff in East Creek at the confluence of East Creek and the Gunnison River due to the proposed project. This showed that the average reduction in annual runoff is 0.24 percent and the maximum average monthly reduction is 0.30 percent in February.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: An earth embankment dam within North East Creek is proposed. The embankment will be 43 feet high and the dam crest will be 290 feet long. The total capacity of the reservoir will be 65 acre-feet. Embankment materials will be obtained from required excavations and borrow areas within or around the reservoir basin. The spillway will have a concrete crest and rip rap lined stilling basin. An outlet pipe will be provided which will be fitted with an intake structure and gate as well as a discharge stilling basin. A feeder pipeline approximately 1,300 feet in length will be constructed from an un-named downstream runoff channel to the reservoir. A conceptual drawing is attached.
Type of Material Being Discharged and Amount of Each in Cubic Yards:
Compacted Earthfill Embankment = 28,000 cubic yards
Surface Area in Acres of Wetlands and Other Waters Filled:
1.48 acres of stream bed and fringe wetlands filled by a combination of excavator, off-highway trucks, and scrapers. Approximately 1,200 linear feet of stream bed and fringe wetlands would be inundated as a result of the project.
Construction of all features is anticipated to begin in 2016.
Environmental Setting. The project area is located within the Glade Park, Colorado and Snyder Flats, Colorado U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 minute quadrangles. North East Creek is located in the Lower Gunnison sub-basin of the Gunnison basin within Upper Colorado Region watershed, HUC 14020005. The U.S. Geological survey maps North East Creek as a perennial stream. Vegetation communities within the project footprint consist of riparian/wetland community surrounded by a montane ecosystem at approximately 8,000 feet elevation. There are approximately 1.44 acres of fringe wetlands along North East Creek within the project area. North East Creek totaled 0.30 acre of non-wetland waters. A small reach of an unnamed tributary to North East Creek, mapped as intermittent by the USGS, was also delineated for potential crossings associated with construction which consists of 0.01 acre of non-wetland waters and 0.04 acre of fringe wetland. The wetlands associated with this site are characterized by park willow, artic rush, creeping bentgrass, alpine timothy, and scouringrush horsetail.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided a project needs and alternatives analysis, which is available upon request. The applicant’s alternatives analysis includes a brief discussion of several alternatives: 1) alternative dam location 5.4 air miles downstream; 2) alternative location upstream from the existing King Lake; 3) enlargement of King Lake; 4) improving the efficiency of the irrigation system; and 5) leasing water. Additional information concerning project needs and alternatives may also be available from the applicant. 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. See Tippings Solitude Lake Summary of Alternatives (Attachment # 5).
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. Five alternatives were evaluated to try and identify options which would have a lesser impact on wetlands. Visually identified wetlands areas around three nearby reservoirs were measured and it was found that the amount of fringe wetlands per mile of shore line at the ordinary high water mark was relatively consistent, varying from 0.7 to 1.1acres/mile, averaging 1.0 acre per mile. Based on this, it is expected that Solitude Reservoir will generate 0.6 acre of fringe wetlands. The balance of required compensatory wetlands will be created by the project proponent either on-site or elsewhere in the North East Creek Drainage.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required for this project.
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 project may affect Federally-listed threatened or endangered species and their critical habitat due to water depletions. These include the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychochelius lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), bonytail chub (Gila elegans), and humpback chub (Gila cypha), and their designated Critical Habitats (USFWS 1994) which are located downstream on the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. An estimate of 30 to 35 acre-feet per year of new water depletions would result from development of this project. Water depletions less than 100 acre-feet per year are covered by the Final Gunnison River Basin Programmatic Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-09-F-001) dated December 4, 2009 (USFWS 2009). The Corps will review the documentation and initiate formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address ESA compliance for the regulated activity.
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-2014-01138 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before August 25, 2015.
Matthew Montgomery, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Colorado West Regulatory Branch
400 Rood Avenue, Room 224
Grand Junction, Colorado 81501
FAX (970) 241-2358
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 Matthew Montgomery, 970-243-1199, extension 17, or by email at Matthew.R.Montgomery@usace.army.mil.
1 - Vicinity Map
2 - Project Map
3 - Wetland Delineation Map
4 - Plan and Cross-Sections Drawing
5 - Summary of Alternatives