Comments Period: February 23, 2016 - March 22, 2016 April 22, 2016
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Narrows Reservoir Project, which would result in permanent impacts to approximately 71.9 acres of wetlands and 5.1 river miles of stream channel, in and adjacent to Gooseberry Creek. 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/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Sanpete Water Conservancy District, Edwin Sunderland, , 90 West Union, Manti, Utah 84642
AGENT: Hansen, Allen & Luce, Inc., Richard M. Noble, P.E., 1045 South 500 East, # 110, American Fork, Utah 84003
LOCATION: The proposed Narrows Dam and Reservoir project site is located 9 miles east of Fairview, Utah, on State Road 31, on or near Gooseberry Creek, in portions of Section 24 and 25, Township 13 South, Range 5 East, and western portions of Sections 19 and 30, Township 13 South, Range 6 East, Sanpete County, Utah, and can be seen on the Fairview Lakes USGS Topographic Quadrangle (Figure 1).
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct an earthen fill dam on Gooseberry Creek to create the Narrows Reservoir. The proposed reservoir is part of a trans-basin water transfer system that would divert water from the Price River Watershed westward to the San Pitch River Watershed. The proposed project would include the construction of a 120-foot high dam with a crest length of 550 feet, creation of a 17,000 acre-foot reservoir, rehabilitation of an existing water diversion tunnel, construction of a pipeline to Cottonwood Creek and three additional water delivery pipelines. Approximately 0.08 miles of SR-264 would also need to be relocated since the current alignment is located within the footprint of the proposed reservoir. The applicant proposes to divert 5,400 acre feet of water annually through the tunnel. 2,500 acre feet would be used as inactive storage and would provide a minimum pool for fish habitat, while 14,500 acre feet of active reservoir capacity would provide long-term carryover storage to develop a water supply of 5,136 acre feet per year for municipal and agricultural use in northern Sanpete County.
The project would result in permanent impacts to approximately 71.9 acres of wetlands and 5.1 river miles of Gooseberry Creek and its tributaries, mostly through inundation. The footprint of the dam within wetland and stream areas is approximately 0.9 acres. The total dam volume is estimated to be 365,000 cubic yards. In addition to supplying water to Sanpete County, the applicant states the project would provide recreation and fishery opportunities in Sanpete County.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to develop an irrigation and municipal & industrial (M&I) water supply source for users in northern Sanpete County to support population growth in the area and provide later season irrigation water to offset shortages that typically occur each year in July, August and September. The applicant believes there is a need to develop their water right in Gooseberry Creek and transport the water to users in northern Sanpete County, where demand for municipal water and agricultural irrigation exceeds the available supply.
For additional information and specific details regarding this project, please review the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BoR) Narrows Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), dated November 2012, at: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/eis/narrows/FinalEIS/index.html.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 89 acres of waters of the U.S., including 83.7 acres of emergent riparian and wet meadow wetlands within the project area and 7.6 river miles of streams and headwater tributaries. The site is characterized by the montane vegetation zone of the Rocky Mountains. Four plant community types were identified within the proposed reservoir boundary. The main community type in the project area is upland sagebrush. Riparian wetlands, willow thickets and wet meadow habitats are located throughout the project area. The wet meadows are located adjacent to streamside vegetation and on higher ridges where spring seeps occur. Riparian wetlands occur in a dendritic pattern along small drainages within the basin. They consist of rush, sedge and grass species and form narrow bands (3-6 feet wide) of streamside vegetation. Less common willow thickets occur primarily in the upper reaches of the proposed inundation area, usually along stream channels within the basin, and along Gooseberry and Cottonwood Creeks.
Gooseberry Creek and its three unnamed tributaries are located high in the Price River Watershed. This tributary of Fish Creek flows directly into Scofield Reservoir. Other tributaries to Scofield Reservoir include Mud Creek and Pondtown creek. The Price River, which flows out of Scofield Reservoir, is a tributary of the Green River which flows to the Colorado River.
Cottonwood Creek, located in the San Pitch River Basin, is located on the opposite side of the divide from Gooseberry Creek. Cottonwood Creek flows down Fairview Canyon and has a narrow riparian corridor confined by a road and upland hill slope. Average width is of this creek is 13 feet and average water surface slope is 3 percent. Vegetation consists of willows, woody shrubs, grasses and forbs at moderate densities. Cottonwood Creek and the San Pitch River are located in the Sevier River sub basin of the Great Basin. Typical of Wasatch Mountain streams, flows in Cottonwood Creek, Gooseberry Creek and their tributaries are greatest in the spring when snowmelt runoff is peaking.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information in the application concerning the 4 project alternatives described below which are addressed in the BoR’s FEIS. The FEIS also describes additional alternatives that the BoR considered and determined to be nonviable. These alternatives will be reconsidered by the Corps during the application evaluation process. 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.
The following four alternatives were addressed in the FEIS: 1) No Action Alternative; 2) Proposed Action Alternative; 3) Mid-sized Reservoir Alternative; and 4) Small Reservoir Alternative.
1) The No Action Alternative. Under this alternative, no permit would be issued and the conditions in the affected area would continue according to current use.
2) The Proposed Action Alternative would provide an average annual supply of 4,281 acre-feet of supplemental irrigation water and 855 acre-feet for municipal and industrial use. This alternative would include construction of 17,000 acre-foot Narrows Dam and Reservoir on Gooseberry Creek, pipelines to deliver the water to existing water distribution systems, rehabilitation of the existing 3,100 foot Narrows Tunnel, and the relocation of 2.9 miles of State Road 264 (SR-264). The dam would be 120 feet high with a crest length of 550 feet and crest width of 30 feet. The Proposed Action Alternative would inundate approximately 71.9 acres of wetlands and 26,947 linear feet of stream channel.
3) The Mid-Sized Reservoir Alternative would be similar to the Proposed Action except that the reservoir capacity would be limited to 12,450 acre-feet. The dam would be 110 feet high with a crest length of 475 feet and crest width of 30 feet. This alternative would include construction the Narrows Dam and Reservoir on Gooseberry Creek, pipelines to deliver the water to existing water distribution systems, rehabilitation of the existing Narrows Tunnel, and the relocation of SR-264. The Mid-Sized Reservoir Alternative would inundate approximately 60.5 acres of wetlands. The applicant did not specify the linear feet of impact to stream channel under this alternative.
4) The Small Reservoir Alternative would be similar to the Proposed Action except that the reservoir capacity would be limited to 7,900 acre-feet. The dam would be 100 feet high with a crest length of 425 feet and a crest width of 30 feet. This alternative would include construction of the Narrows Dam and Reservoir on Gooseberry Creek, pipelines to deliver the water to existing water distribution systems, rehabilitation of the existing Narrows Tunnel, and the relocation of SR 264. The Small Reservoir Alternative would inundate approximately 48 acres of wetlands. The applicant did not specify the linear feet of impact to stream channel under this alternative.
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 included a compensatory mitigation proposal in the application that they believe would provide similar wildlife habitat values and aquatic functions lost due to the inundation of the reservoir. The applicant has proposed to mitigate in the Mud Creek area south of Scofield Reservoir and in the Manti Meadows Wildlife Management Area. The proposed Mud Creek mitigation would include 27 acres of wetland creation and 118.1 acres of wetland and stream enhancement. The Manti Meadows mitigation would include 204.9 acres of wetland and stream enhancement. Activities on the Mud Creek and Manti Meadows sites would consist of excavation and contouring, addition of hydrology, re-vegetation with native species, grazing management, weed control and fencing. The compensatory wetland areas would be maintained by SWCD under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. In addition, the applicant has proposed long-term monitoring, maintenance and management measures to be implemented as part of the mitigation process.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the State of Utah, is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification. Written comments on water quality certification should be submitted to Mr. William Damery, Utah Division of Water Quality, P.O. Box 144870, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, on or before March 22, 2016 April 22, 2016.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information provided to the Corps in the applicant’s permit application and the FEIS, the proposed project would adversely affect historic properties. BoR previously consulted with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office on the historic properties that would be affected. However, the identified sites were not evaluated for their eligibility for inclusion in National Register of Historic Properties in 1997 and thus will be revisited and evaluated for eligibility. In addition, the design plans and, therefore, the Corps Permit Area/Area of Potential Effect of the proposed project have changed since the 1979 cultural resource inventory. As such, additional inventories will need to be performed for the other project components including the Upper Cottonwood Creek, Oak Creek, and East Bench Pipeline alignments, new road alignments, borrow areas, staging areas, new campgrounds, marinas and wetland mitigation areas. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: No threatened or endangered species have been identified in the Narrows Reservoir project area. However, suitable habitat may exist in the proposed mitigation areas. Also, four endangered fish species exist in the Colorado River System downstream: the Colorado pikeminnow, bonytail chub, humpback chub, and the razorback sucker. BoR consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on potential project impacts to threatened and endangered species. BoR submitted a biological assessment and subsequently an amended assessment to the USFWS. A biological opinion from the USFWS was issued in August 2000. The biological opinion concluded that the proposed Narrows Project and associated depletion of water from the Colorado River system may affect the four endangered fishes. However, the opinion also stated that the project would likely not jeopardize their continued existence provided measures were implemented to offset major project impacts. It was determined that mitigation of the project effects would be a one-time financial contribution to the recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish species in the Colorado River Basin.
Due to the age of the previous biological opinion, the changes in the project and mitigation areas, and the listing of new species in recent years, formal consultation with USFWS will be required prior to issuance of a Corps permit.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
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.
Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-1992-50255 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before March 22, 2016
April 22, 2016.
Michael Pectol, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
533 West 2600 South, Suite 150
Bountiful, Utah 84010-7744
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 Michael Pectol, 801-295-8380 x15, Michael.A.Pectol@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 11 drawings