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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

Tropical Storms & Other Emergencies - These public notices provide information on procedures for emergency permitting requirements due to specific tropical storm events or other emergency situations.

Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

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SAJ-2017-02757 (SP-CSH)

Posted: 11/20/2017

Expiration date: 12/11/2017


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT: Duke Energy Florida, LLC
c/o Wayne R. Richardson
101 Cemetery Road
Tarpon Springs, Florida 34689

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Peace River Basin. Specifically, waters with Peace Creek, Peace River, and unnamed wetlands. The project site is located in Sections 24, 25, 26, 28, 33, 34, and 35, Township 31 South, Range 25 East; Sections 1, 13, 24, 25, 35, and 36, Township 30 South, Range 26 East; Sections 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 18, and 19, Township 31 South, Range 26 East; and Sections 6, 7, 18, 19, 30, and 31, Township 30 South, Range 27 East, in Polk County Florida. The Fort Meade Substation is located at 1425 County Road 630, Fort Meade, FL 33841. The West Lake Wales Substation is located at 4451 State Road 60, Lake Wales, FL 33859. The existing transmission line heads northeast from the Fort Meade Substation and ends at the West Lake Wales Substation.

Directions to the site are as follows: From Tampa, take I-4 East and take Exit 10 for FL-570. Continue until the intersection of US-98 turn right (south). Keep south on US-98 until the intersection of Broadway Street in Fort Meade, turn right. The Fort Meade substation will be located on the left.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 27.822067°N
Latitude 27.822067°
Longitude -81.742075°

PROJECT PURPOSE:
Basic: Utility line
Overall: To enhance the power grid between the Fort Meade and West Lake Wales substations in Polk County, Florida

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of freshwater systems within an existing electrical transmission line corridor. Forty-five (45) wetlands and 24 surface waters were identified within the corridor for a total of 56.97 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and surface waters. These systems consist of surface water ditches, stormwater ponds, Peace Creek, the Peace River and vegetated non-forested wetlands3

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to rebuild the existing FWL 230kV Transmission Line that runs from the Fort Meade Substation (Structure FWL-1) to the West Lake Wales Substation (Structure FWL-167). The purpose of the project is to upgrade the transmission line to provide a vital enhancement to Duke Energy’s power grid. The project involves the replacement of existing H-frame and mono pole wood utility structures (159) with new steel or concrete structures (159) and the installation of new conductor (wire) on the structures. The rebuild will involve the removal of existing structures from uplands and wetlands, installation of new structures in uplands and wetlands, installation of at-grade access improvements and structure pads, above grade ditch crossings, as well as temporary matting. The purpose of the at-grade access improvements and pads is to allow designated points of access to the transmission line. This will result to fewer wetland impacts overtime and provide important access to the vital transmission line for maintenance and emergency repair. No stormwater management system is proposed as the access improvements are at-grade and will remain permeable. Minor above-grade improvements are proposed at the construction entrances. Culverts will be installed to ensure the construction entrances do not impede road side ditch flow. The project area is a 100-foot cleared transmission corridor that is 19.8± miles long.

The first task for the project is to build access improvements to existing structures in wetlands and install at-grade pole pads and replacement poles. The bases of the new utility poles will be spotted and installed using bucket trucks and cranes. Sedimentation and erosion control will be installed and maintained during construction. A drill rig, tanker, crane, flatbed trucks, concrete pumpers and trucks, and a backhoe will be used during this phase of construction. All drilling fluids will be collected and reused or properly disposed offsite. No drilling fluid will be allowed to enter wetlands. No side cast material will enter wetlands. Any excess material (soil and muck) resulting from project will be removed from the wetland area and spread in self-contained uplands within the corridor or disposed at an approved landfill. The final step is to use bucket trucks and cranes to install the new electrical components on the structures and string the conductor.

The proposed project includes permanent impacts to wetlands for the installation of transmission structures, geo-web at-grade access improvements, geo-web at-grade structure pads, and above-grade access improvements. A total of 0.02 acres of permanent impact for 29 transmission poles, 8.51 acres of impact for geo-web at-grade access improvements and geoweb at-grade structure pads, and 0.08 acres of above-grade access improvements are proposed.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: Access improvements have been designed and located to have the least impact to wetlands. Deep pools of the wetlands were avoided, flow characteristics were maintained, and seasonal high water elevations will not be altered. Access improvements will be built at-grade and will be modified with geo-web and gravel design. No compaction will occur. Over the long term, access improvements within the wetlands will provide for minimization of impacts to the wetland by providing a designated point of crossing..

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: A Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) analysis was conducted for the proposed wetland impacts. The total UMAM functional loss score is -1.84 for the 8.51 acres of total permanent impact. To compensate for the wetland loss, Duke Energy is proposing to purchase 1.84 mitigation bank credits from the Boran Ranch (Herbaceous Credits) Mitigation Bank located in the Peace River Basin.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: A Cultural Resources Assessment (CRAS) was conducted by the applicant within the project corridor. No impacts to historical or archaeological resources are proposed. The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) determined that the proposed project will have no effect on cultural resources listed, or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), or otherwise of archaeological, historical, or architectural significance within the survey area.

The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork, Caracara and Eastern Indigo Snake. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the sand skink or its designated critical habitat. Detailed listed species surveys were conducted December 2015, March 2016 and May 2017. Sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) tracks, were observed within the project limits. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the Florida scrub-jay, Florida Grasshopper Sparrow or the Everglades Snail Kite as there is no suitable habitat for these species on site.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section within 21 days from the date of this notice. For electronic mail (preferred) submit comments to Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil. For standard mail submit comments to 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302. Please reference this permit number, SAJ- 2017-02757 (SP-CSH), on all submittals.

The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.

QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Caitlin Hoch, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil; by fax at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7074.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat

EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical 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, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act of the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (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 the 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.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board, in the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.

Jacksonville District permit Polk County public notice U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE