US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District Website

Corps announces public comment on temporary deviation to support Kissimmee River Restoration

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Feb. 28, 2020

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, announces public comment on the draft Expedited Environmental Assessment (EA) and Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) associated with a planned temporary deviation to the 1981 Lake Kissimmee, Hatchineha and Cypress Interim Regulation Schedule. Public comments are due March 16.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is preparing a Draft Expedited National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment (EA) and Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) associated with a planned temporary deviation to the 1981 Lake Kissimmee, Hatchineha and Cypress (KHC) Interim Regulation Schedule. The planned temporary deviation would raise the low summer pool elevation from 49.0 to 51.0 feet, National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD) in order to better facilitate construction along the Kissimmee River through 2021.

"We want to have the flexibility to hold the lake stages for Lake Kissimmee a little bit higher prior to the start of the wet season," said Dr. Orlando Ramos-Gines, Senior Project Manager. "This will give us the best chance at keeping flows in the Kissimmee River low enough to facilitate the construction on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project while maintaining flood control as our primary purpose."

The Draft Expedited Environmental Assessment (EA) and Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) associated with a planned temporary deviation to the 1981 Lake Kissimmee, Hatchineha and Cypress Interim Regulation Schedule is available for review and comment at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/Deviations. (note: large files may take a few minutes to download).

The Corps requests that comments on the Draft Expedited Environmental Assessment (EA) and proposed FONSI be submitted to Melissa.A.Nasuti@usace.army.mil, at your earliest convenience, and not later than March 16, 2020. Please include “KHC Deviation Comments” in the subject line of emailed comments.

Comments may also be submitted by March 16 to:
Melissa Nasuti
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019

The 1992 Kissimmee River Restoration (KRR) Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addressed restoration efforts in both the Upper Basin and Lower Basin of the Kissimmee River watershed, but focused mainly on the Lower Basin. Further analysis of the Upper Basin was included in the 1996 Kissimmee River Headwaters Revitalization Project (HRP) Integrated Project Modification Report and Supplement to the Final EIS. Together, the components outlined in the HRP and in the KRR Feasibility Report and EIS are known as the Kissimmee River Restoration (KRR) Project. The KRR Project was authorized under Section 101(8) of Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 1992, Public Law 102-580. The KRR is sponsored by the Corps and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). After extensive planning, construction for environmental restoration began in 1999. The project is close to completion. Remaining construction includes Kissimmee River backfill and the S-69 U-shaped weir completion. Lake Kissimmee, Hatchineha, and Cypress are regulated by a single structure, S-65, located at the outlet of Lake Kissimmee. S-65 is a spillway located at the head of the C-38 canal (i.e. the Kissimmee River). The lakes are currently regulated between elevations 48.5 and 52.5 feet NGVD, according to the schedule that varies seasonally.

The intent of the planned temporary deviation is to limit Lake Kissimmee releases to no more than 900 cubic feet per second (cfs) in order to facilitate KRR construction in Reach 2, which is located south of S-65. This is necessary because flows greater than 900 cfs as measured at S-65 cause water to rise out of the Kissimmee River bank. The planned temporary deviation will provide operational flexibility to the SFWMD, increasing the likelihood of providing flows within the optimum range for Corps construction.

Over the past three years, construction has been halted when flows from Lake Kissimmee through S-65 are required to provide lake storage for flood control purposes in preparation for the wet season. The planned temporary deviation would provide the SFWMD more flexibility to manage flows in accordance with project. Ultimately, the deviation would provide a 50 percent chance of avoiding the need to increase flows above 900 cfs. The deviation would still allow for a recession to the summer low pool by increasing the low stage requirement from 49.0 to 51.0 feet. The deviation would also provide the SFWMD with the flexibility to begin the recession at any elevation below 52.5 feet and would allow the SFWMD to maintain releases from Lake Kissimmee at or less than 900 cfs. There would be no change to the S-65 release guidance for at water levels above flood control releases.

Recession rates to meet fish and wildlife needs would be below the maximum rates of 0.8 feet per month and approximately lower than 0.25 feet per month. Standard fish and wildlife recommendations for dry season operations, dated 2015, would be followed to provide guidance on how to minimize adverse effects of reversals on Everglade snail kite nesting and wading bird foraging.

The planned deviation would alter the timing and volume of S-65 releases to the lower basin of the Kissimmee River. Under the current 1981 Lake Kissimmee, Hatchineha and Cypress Interim Regulation Schedule, all lakes in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are drawn down to their lowest pools around June 1 of each year to provide critical flood storage in preparation for the rainy season. The planned temporary deviation would not provide this typical draw down, but would allow Lake Kissimmee to go up to its peak rainy season. The deviation would be in effect through 2021. The Corps Water Management Section's assessment of hydrometeorological conditions and stakeholder or agency input may suspend or discontinue the deviation due to impacts greater than expected/discussed within the EA. Termination of the deviation may be implemented at any time. The decision-making process would include frequent coordination calls with resource agencies to inform changes in Lake KCH management. A draft of the operational strategy will be provided to the public when available.

Additional information on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/KRR

Kissimmee River Restoration Fact Sheet: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/4248

Kissimmee River Restoration Placemat: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/4249


Contact
Erica Skolte
561-801-5734 (cell)
Erica.A.Skolte@usace.army.mil

Release no. 20-020