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:
Duke Energy Florida
Attn: Wayne Richardson
101 Cemetery Road
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Hydrologic Unit Code 0308010110 (Econolockhatchee River) and Hydrologic Unit Code 0309010101 (East Lake Tohopekaliga). The project site is located within the existing transmission line corridor in Sections 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 17, 18, 19, 20, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, Townships 23, 24, South, Range 31 East, Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project begins at existing structure RW-26 located 1500 feet northeast of the intersection of Faith Assembly of God Roadway and Curry Ford Road and follows the existing transmission line corridor 0.85 miles south, then east 0.46 miles then 1.95 miles south to existing structure RW-66-1. The project begins again at existing structure RW-89 located 0.42 miles south of the intersection of Highway 528 and Highway 417. From structure RW-89 the project follows the existing transmission line corridor southeast 2.48 miles, terminating at the FGT East Substation (13129 Wewahootee Road, Orlando, Florida 32832).
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.48724°
Basic: Electric utility infrastructure maintenance
Overall: Replace steel and concrete utility structures, and install permanent, at-grade structure pads at utility poles located within wetlands in Orange County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: Four wetland habitat types were identified within the transmission line corridor. The wetlands and surface waters within the project corridor were classified using the State of Florida FLUCCS (SJRWMD 2011) description and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWS) Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United Stated (Cowardin 1979). All the wetlands found within the project corridor are disturbed with varying degrees of hydrologic alteration, have been cleared of natural vegetation, or have been invaded with exotic/nuisance plant species. There are no wetlands or surface waters designated as Outstanding Florida Waters within the project corridor. In addition, no portion of the corridor is located within State of Florida designated Riparian Habitat Protection Areas. These four habitat types include a total of 14 individual wetlands and one surface water that were delineated within the project corridor.
FLUCCS 510 (Canal)
FWS: R2UBH (Riverine, Lower Perennial, Unconsolidated Bottom, Permanently Flooded)
One surface water, a landfill canal, parallels the east side of the project corridor between existing structures RW-43 and RW-58. This canal flows north to the Azalea Park Outfall canal which then flows into the Little Econlockhatchee River. Within the project corridor, the northern portion of the canal is deeply incised and free of wetland vegetation and the southern portion of the project corridor has wetland vegetation along the bank. Common species within this area include Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), cattails (Typha sp.), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), sapling red maple (Acer rubrum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and torpedograss (Panicum repens).
FLUCCS: 630 (Mixed Wetland Forest) FWS: PFO6/7C (Palustrine, Forested, Deciduous/Evergreen, Seasonally Flooded)
Wetlands J and K were designated as mixed wetland forest communities. This classification consists of forested wetlands in which neither hardwoods nor conifers achieve a 67-percent dominance of the crown canopy composition. These wetlands parallel the project corridor and primarily consist of cypress (Taxodium ascendens), red maple, Virginia chain fern, primrose-willow (Ludwigia peruviana), and blackberry (Rubus spp.).
FLUCCS: 641 (Freshwater Marshes)
FWS: PEM1C (Palustrine, Emergent, Persistent, Seasonally Flooded)
Wetlands 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, E, F, G, and I were designated as freshwater marshes. This classification consists of areas dominated by herbaceous wetland plant species with surface water present for extended periods during the growing season. Within the project corridor, vegetation within this classification includes maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), rush (Juncus spp.), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), water pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), dog-fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), and coinwort (Centella asiatica).
FLUCCS 643 (Wet Prairies)
FWS: PEM1C (Palustrine, Emergent Marsh, Persistent, Seasonally Flooded)
PEM1Cd (Palustrine, Emergent, Persistent, Seasonally Flooded, Partially drained/ditched)
Wetlands 5, H, and L were designated as wet prairies. This classification consists of areas dominated by grassy vegetation with shorter herbs and less water than a marsh. Within the project corridor, vegetation within these areas includes maidencane, yellow-eyed-grass (Xyris sp.), beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), whitetop sedge (Dichromena colorata), water pennywort, coinwort, false-willow (Baccharis angustifolia), and broomsedge.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant requests authorization to fill 4.92 acres of wetlands for the installation of transmission structures, geoweb at-grade access improvements (16- feet wide, pervious, unpaved and at-grade) and geo-web at-grade structure pads.
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, the applicant has designed the project to have a minimal adverse effect on wetland resources. The proposed project was designed to replace 28 existing transmission structures in wetlands with 28 new steel or concrete structures. Structures within wetlands will be accessed on permanent access improvements. A temporary bridge will be constructed over the Little Econlockhatchee to avoid impacts to that surface water. Once the project is complete the bridge will be removed. There are no surface water impacts associated with the bridge.
Over the long term, the access improvements within wetlands will provide for minimization of impacts to the wetland by providing a designated point of crossing. The point of entry of the structures within wetlands will be from the access improvements. The 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 were not altered. Access improvements and pole pads will be built at-grade and will be modified with geo-web and gravel design. No compaction will occur. Installation of temporary construction matting will be utilized to prevent impacts to wetlands during construction in those areas where access improvements are not proposed. Once construction is complete, the temporary matting will be removed. To prevent wetland impacts in adjacent wetlands, sedimentation and erosion controls will be installed and maintained during construction. ”
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 also conducted for the proposed wetland impacts. The total WRAP loss score is -0.65 for the 4.92 acres of total permanent impact. To compensate for the wetland loss, Duke Energy is proposing to purchase mitigation bank credits in the FDEP and USACE approved TM-Econ Mitigation Bank (SJRWMD 4-095-84310-7 and SAJ-2001-07089) located in the Econlockhatchee River Nested Basin. This bank is state approved using UMAM and federally approved using WRAP. Duke Energy will purchase 1.01 State Freshwater UMAM wetlands mitigation credits to compensate for the functional loss of 1.01 units. Duke Energy will purchase 0.65 USACE Palustrine WRAP credits for the loss of 0.65. A preliminary Mitigation Bank Reservation Letter is provided in the submittal. A final Reservation Letter will be submitted upon agency approval of the UMAM/WRAP analysis and proposed mitigation credit purchase.”
The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area, which is defined by the project boundaries. 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, not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based upon review of the Corps and Service’s Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 13, 2013), the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) >B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo snake during site preparation and protection construction.) >C (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat) >E (permit will be conditioned such that gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, and snake refugia will be inspected before site manipulation of a particular area, and if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work) = NLAA. No further consultation was required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) North Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (September 2008). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 2,500 feet from a colony site.) > B (Project does not impact SFH) = no effect. No further consultation was required.
Based on existing habitat types the Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the scrub jay. Following the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have no effect on the Florida Scrub Jay. No further consultation was required.
Based on existing habitat types and survey information, the Corps determination for the proposed project is “no affect” to the Crested Caracara. The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the caracara. Following the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have no effect on the Crested Caracara. No further consultation was required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on sand skinks (Neoseps reynoldsi) and blue-tailed mole skinks (Eumeces egregious lividus). The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for skinks and, per the FWS guidelines, an oriented strand board coverboard survey was conducted. No sand skinks, blue-tailed mole skinks, or evidence of their presence was found as a result of the survey. Additionally, on March 30, 2017 the applicant received technical Assistance from the FWS supporting the proposed work will not impact skinks. Therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have no effect on sand skinks and blue-tailed mole skinks. No further consultation was required.
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. The proposal would impact approximately 4.92 acres of freshwater wetlands which ultimately discharges to the Econolockhatchee River and East Lake Tohopekaliga. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the downstream waters. 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, 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, Brandon Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (321) 504-3803; or, by telephone at (504) 321-3771 x11.
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.