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) 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 Double Branch Creek to the east of the site, which drains to Upper Tampa Bay. The project site is located in unnamed wetlands in Section 12, Township 28 South, and Range 16 East in Pinellas County, Florida. More specifically, the Lake Tarpon Substation is a 149.7± acre area located at 11710 Race Track Road, Oldsmar, Florida 34677.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Tampa travel on the Veterans Expressway north. At exit 7 take the ramp and exit right onto Linebaugh Avenue. Just beyond the intersection of Race Track Road and West Linebaugh Avenue turn right into the access drive for the Lake Tarpon Substation.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Electric Utility
Overall: Expand the existing Lake Tarpon Substation to address failing transformers and enhance function, capacity, and reliability to the Duke Energy Florida power grid.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a 2.36 acre freshwater system. The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of vasey grass, smutgrass, and red-top panicum. Additional species include white-top sedge, pickerelweed, lance leaf arrowhead, cattails, and water primrose. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of the existing substation and supporting amenities (transmission line corridors and surface water management system) as well as forested and herbaceous wetland habitat.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 2.36 acres of a seasonally flooded meadow within an existing transmission corridor to expand the existing Lake Tarpon Substation. The expansion will include 1.6 acres of discharged material for the substation expansion footprint and 0.76 acre of impact associated with the required surface water management system facilities.
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:
“Overall Duke Energy has designed the project to have minimal adverse impact on wetlands. The purpose of this project is to construct a vital enhancement to the Duke Energy power grid. The existing substation banks are failing and the expansion is designed to increase function, capacity, and reliability. The specific on-site location was selected due to the proximity to the current substation location. Additionally, in comparison to the other onsite wetlands, Wetland C will result in the least amount of functional loss. Sedimentation and erosion control devices will be installed and maintained during construction to prevent impacts to adjacent wetlands and surface waters.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“A Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) analysis was conducted for the project (see attached M-WRAP sheet). The total WRAP score is 0.94 for the 2.36 acre impact to Wetland C. To compensate for the wetland loss, Duke Energy is proposing to purchase freshwater herbaceous mitigation bank credits in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Corps approved Tampa Bay Mitigation Bank (Tampa Bay Basin). Duke Energy will purchase 1.0 WRAP credits in the Tampa Bay Mitigation Bank to compensate for the functional loss of -0.94 units.”
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). U.S. Fish and Wildlife reviewed the proposed project and provided a concurrence letter dated January 6, 2017 pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act that stated that the proposed project keys out as not likely to adversely affect for the Wood Stork.
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 has been obtained from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in accordance with ERP 52-0349896-001-EI issued on February 17, 2017.
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, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302 within 21 days from the date of this notice.
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, Ryan Hendren, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302; by electronic mail at Ryan.G.Hendren@usace.army.mil or, by telephone at 813-769-7075.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: 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.
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 or 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 determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. 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.