Jacksonville, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2012) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will hold a public scoping meeting Thursday, Sept. 6 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Office, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach. The meeting is associated with the development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the SFWMD’s proposal to construct and operate the A1 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) and will help to determine the range of actions, alternatives and factors to be considered in its development. The meeting is open to the public.
The purpose of the proposed project is to attenuate peak stormwater flows to assist in achieving water quality standards in the Central Flowpath of the Everglades Protection Area. It includes a 15,000-acre shallow impoundment area that would store approximately 60,000 acre/feet of water approximately four feet in depth. Under Sec. 404 of the Clean Water Act, USACE regulates dredge and fill activities in waters of the United States, including wetlands. It is anticipated that up to 15,000 acres of waters of the United States may be impacted as a result of placement of fill and inundation.
After completing an EIS for the Everglades Agricultural Area A1 Reservoir in July 2006, USACE issued a permit to the SFWMD to construct the A1 Reservoir. The Everglades Agricultural Area borders Highway U.S. 27 and the North New River Canal to the east, Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 3/4 to the south and Holey Land Wildlife Management Area to the southwest in western Palm Beach County. The SFWMD began construction but stopped work prior to completion. The permit expired July 11, 2011. To comply with mandated water quality standards and a Consent Order with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the SFWMD is required to complete corrective actions to achieve a water quality based effluent limitation for total phosphorus discharges from the STAs into the Everglades Protection Area.
In accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, USACE will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the effects of the proposed project on the Audubon’s crested caracara, wood stork, eastern indigo snake and Everglades snail kite and its designated critical habitat. USACE is not aware of any cultural resources on the project site or that may be affected by the project and will coordinate appropriate review with the State Historic Preservation Office and associated Native American Indian Tribes.
The scoping process will identify concerns of federal, state and local agencies, any affected Native American Indian Tribe, proponents of the action and the public. The scoping meeting will provide an opportunity for interested parties to raise environmental or social concerns and/or concepts for minimizing potential environmental impacts. Comments may also be submitted by mail to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, Attention Ms. Alisa Zarbo, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 33410 or by e-mail to: Alisa.A.Zarbo@usace.army.mil.
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. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, wetlands, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards and others.