Comments Period: May 19, 2016 – June 3, 2016
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Wallace Weir Fish Rescue Facility project, which would result in impacts to approximately 1.77 acres of waters of the United States, in the Knights Landing Ridge Cut and the Yolo Bypass.
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: Reclamation District 108, Attn: Mr. Lewis Bair, P.O. Box 50, Grimes, California 95950-0050
LOCATION: The approximately 115-acre project site is located where the Knights Landing Ridge Cut enters the Yolo Bypass, Latitude 38.721120°, Longitude -121.664115°, Yolo County, California, and can be seen on the Greys Bend USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT PURPOSE AND NEED: Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to reduce the loss of migrating adult winter-run and spring-run chinook salmon by impeding fish passage into the Colusa Basin Drain (CBD) at the Wallace Weir. The applicant has stated that this project is necessary in order to comply with Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives 1.6 and 1.7 of the 2009 Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. Currently, adult salmon are able to pass the Wallace Weir during certain flow conditions and enter the CBD through the Knights Landing Ridge Cut. Once salmon enter the CBD, there is no spawning habitat or an upstream route for salmon to return to the Sacramento River and the fish are lost from production or must be rescued. Construction of the permanent barrier would provide a near-term, permanent fix to block federally and state-listed anadromous fish entry into the CBD through the KLRC, as well as facilitate fish relocation, while maintaining outflows.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to replace the existing Wallace Weir with a permanent structure, new flow gates, and a concrete fish rescue facility. The new weir would be approximately three feet taller than the existing structure and located approximately 50-100 feet downstream of the existing weir. Approximately ½ mile of the agricultural road to the north would be raised to match the new structure elevation.
The existing weir is a 530-foot-long earthen structure with manually operated flow gates at either end. The earthen section is removed each year to allow flood flows to pass. The new weir would be similar in length to the existing weir, but would be approximately three feet taller and have a hardened crown and rock slope protection which would not be removed annually. The gates at the northeast end of the weir would be remotely-operated bladder dams, while the flow gates at the southwest end of the weir would be replaced with three 36-inch culverts with manual canal gates. Soil for the new structure would be borrowed from the channel downstream of the new weir. The existing structure would be removed upon completion of the new structure.
Three new flow gates and a concrete fish collection facility would be installed at the northeast end of the weir. The new gates would have bladder dams located at the upstream end of three large bays which would be divided into six bays on the downstream (southeast) side. Fish passage would be prevented by six picket weirs across the downstream side, directing fish into the fish collection facility on the northeast (left) bank. A 20-foot wide bridge would be constructed, spanning the gates and fish collection facility. A parking and staging area would be installed on the land side of the fish rescue facility. Rock slope protection (RSP) would also be installed along the new structure and the raised agricultural road.
Three 36-inch concrete pipe culverts, approximately 85 feet long, would be installed within the weir at the southwest end of the weir. A concrete headwall with three manually operated canal gates would be installed at the upstream end of the culverts to control flow to the existing agricultural ditch. An approximately 361 square-foot control building, housing the compressor and electrical equipment for the automated flow gates would be constructed on the levee southwest of the structure and a new overhead electrical power line would be extended 1,200 feet from an existing power pole to the control building.
The proposed project would place approximately 3,250 cubic yards of RSP, 26,670 cubic yards of soil, and 2,400 cubic yards of concrete. The discharge of this material into waters of the U.S. would result in permanent impacts to approximately 1.77 acres and temporary impacts to 6.87 acres of canal and ditch features. Some of this material would come from proposed borrow sites within the canal immediately downstream of the existing weir. Excavation within the channel would be to a depth of approximately two feet.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 7.19 acres of wetlands consisting of 2.17 acres of emergent marsh and 5.02 acres of forested wetlands within the project area. There are also approximately 45.39 acres of other water of the U.S. consisting of 8.21 acres of canal/ditch, 5.07 acres of the open water, and 32.11 acres of the riverine features. The site is characterized by the existing weir which is removed and replaced annually, an existing agricultural road, the KLRC, irrigation ditches, active agricultural fields to the east, and levees to the west.
Alternatives. The applicant has 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. The applicant has proposed to purchase credits at a Corps-approved mitigation bank at a 1:1 ratio.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS:
Water Quality Certification: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
Historic Properties: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled Cultural Resources Survey and Evaluation Report, Wallace Weir Fish Passage Improvements Project, Yolo County, California, dated April 12, 2016, prepared by the California Department of Water Resources, no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect. The Corps has initiated 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 has initiated 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 would 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-2013-00229 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 3, 2016.
Zachary Simmons, 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 Zachary Simmons, 916-557-6746, Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 8 drawings