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:
Hillsboro Inlet Improvement & Maintenance District
Attention: Mr. Jack Holland
2861 NE 22nd Court
Pompano Beach, Florida 33062
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The maintenance dredging is located within Hillsboro Inlet, the entrance channel to the inlet, and the beach fill sites which are located south of the inlet along the north section of Pompano Beach approximately 100 feet north of Department of Environmental Protection monument R-25 to approximately 500 feet south of R-25, and along the U.S. Coast Guard’s shoreline on the north side of the Inlet along the south section of Hillsboro Beach in Broward County (Section 29, Township 48 South, Range 43 East), Atlantic Ocean.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Southbound I-95 take exit 38A East Copans Road; continue east to U.S. 1, turn South onto U.S.1 and continue to NE14th Street, turn east onto NE 14th Street and continue to State Road A1A (North Ocean Drive), turn north onto A1A and continue to the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, cross the bridge and take the right and follow the road to the lighthouse. The project is in open water within the inlet.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to perform maintenance dredging and sand by-passing activities that include placement of material for shoreline stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to conduct maintenance dredging, sand bypassing activities at the Hillsboro Inlet on the north side of the Inlet along the south section of Hillsboro Beach, and south of the Inlet along the north section of Pompano Beach.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is at the Hillsboro Inlet which connects the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. The existing area surrounding the project consists of beach sand, sea oats, sea grapes, residential and commercial buildings, and State Road A1A. A detailed aquatic resource analysis was conducted in August of 2004 indicated seagrass was not present within the proposed dredge/fill areas. Seagrasses were observed in Hillsboro Bay, west of the navigational channel (i.e. secondary interior dredge area). The seagrass bed in this area is dominated by Halophila decipiens intermixed with areas of Halophila johnsonii, Halodule wrightii and Thalassia testudinum. The bed edges were identified approximately 145 to 190 feet from the center of the channel. Currently the inlet is dredged to a depth of -20 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD). The dredged beach-compatible sand is by-passed through the existing Hillsboro Inlet dredge (HID) discharge pipeline and placed along the shoreline of the Inlet. The submerged pipeline is constructed of non-floating rubber and is stationary along a trench at the bottom of the inlet. The line is partially buried with sand and is not subject to movement. Offshore of Hillsboro along the southern shoreline the benthic habitat consist mostly of unconsolidated sandy sediment Coral reef and colonized hard-bottom is located over 600 linear feet offshore.
PROJECT HISTORY: The Army Corps of Engineers re-authorized an existing Department of the Army permit on May 22, 2012. A modification was issued on July 31, 2015, which included additional work activities and removed specific requirements of the existing special conditions in the permit. Another modification was issued on September 22, 2015, to increase the area and depths for maintenance dredging of the Hillsboro Inlet and to bypass the dredged beach-compatible sand along the shoreline of the Inlet. In order to remain consistent with the expiration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) incidental take statement and to coincide with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) permit expiration date, this permit will expire September 1, 2018.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant is requesting a 10-year time extension to the existing permit (SAJ-1993-01995 issued on May 22, 2012) with the modifications to expire on September 1, 2028. The project is to maintenance dredge 18.58 acres of the Hillsboro Inlet to design depths and bypass the dredged, beach-compatible sand (125,000 cubic yards) along the shoreline (1.46 acres) of the Inlet. The exterior entrance channel to Hillsboro Inlet will be dredged to the design depth of -20 feet NGVD. The interior, sand impounding area immediately adjacent to the weir section of the north jetty will be dredged to -12 feet NGVD. The primary interior dredge area dredged to a depth of -12 feet NGVD. The maintenance dredging of the area adjacent to the secondary interior dredge area and north of the primary interior dredge area dredged to a depth of -12 feet NGVD. Additional dredging within the inlet will occur as needed to a depth of -12 feet NGVD.
The sand by-passing element of the project will be accomplished through the annual placement of approximately 125,000 cubic yards of sand (2.87 acres) along the shoreline from approximately 100 feet north of FDEP monument R-25 to approximately 150 linear feet south of R-26 and along the shoreline adjacent to the Coast Guard beach (1.46 acres) approximately three times per year.
The existing Hillsboro Inlet dredge (HID) discharge pipeline will be used for sand placement. The pipeline will remain in place during all dredging operations, and the dredging operator will add floating line as needed to connect to the submerged line that crosses the inlet. The HID dredge is an 8-inch, hydraulic, cutter-head dredge. The cutter-head serves to loosen the material and mix it with water to create the slurry that is pumped through the discharge line. Based on equipment restrictions, it is necessary for the HID to dredge on a continuous basis, as needed, throughout the year. Dredge capacity is approximately 300 cubic yards per hour. The HID dredge does not have the capacity to reach the -20 feet NGVD design depth of the fan-shaped entrance to the Inlet (exterior dredge area). The HID may hire a contractor or purchase a new dredge with a larger capacity to dredge the entrance to design depth at a future date. Until this time, the area will be maintained to a depth of approximately -12 feet NGVD.
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:
Maintenance dredging activities have been ongoing continuously since 1957, when the District was created, and are a very successful component of the overall beach management strategy in Broward County and no adverse effects to the ecosystem have occurred as a result of the bypassing operation to date. Coastal Systems conducted a pre-construction survey of the hard-bottom adjacent to the entire Exterior Dredge Area on May 9 and May 10, 2012 and a post construction survey of the area where dredging occurred in July 2012. The corresponding report documents that no hard-bottom impacts occurred as a result of dredging activities. Dredging operators are careful to ensure the equipment does not come into contact with hard-bottom to protect the environment and avoid costly down time and repairs, no hard-bottom impacts have occurred or are likely to occur in the future. Turbidity monitoring indicates that turbidity readings immediately adjacent to the dredging area range from 0.01 to 2.94 NTU’s and adjacent to the discharge area are 0.01 to 11.14 NTUs.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant states that impacts to hard-bottom of submerged aquatic vegetation is not proposed or anticipated therefore no compensatory mitigation is required.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps has previously initiated and completed consultation (DHR Project File No. 2013-00785), with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the threatened and endangered swimming sea turtles; loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), and the Loggerhead breeding critical habitat (Unit LOGG-N-19), the threatened Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii) and would not adversely modify any of the above listed species designated critical habitat. The Corps consulted with National Marine Fisheries Service for the project including all modifications and received concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by a separate letter dated December 11, 2014. The Corps will not conduct further consultation with NMFS for the project.
The Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the threatened West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), or its designated critical habitat. The Corps has determined that the project may affect the nesting sea turtles due to the additional proposed beach placement areas. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by a separate letter.
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 18.58 acres of un-vegetated habitat from dredging activities and 1.46 acres of unconsolidated sandy habitat from beach fill activities. The benthic habitat is characterized as mud, shell/sand and rock benthic habitat, and is utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 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 application should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the above address within 21 days from the date of this notice.
If you have any questions concerning this application, you may contact Paula Bratschi at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410, by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at (561) 626-6971, or by telephone at (561) 472-3532.
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 aquatic environment. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
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.