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Published Aug. 9, 2018
Expiration date: 9/10/2018
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:

APPLICANT: Damian Cartwright
Virgin Islands Port Authority
P.O. Box 1134
Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI 00821

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect navigable waters of the United States (WOTUS) at Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas) Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI. The project would also affect waters at Lindbergh Bay, St. Thomas, USVI, approximately 2.5 miles west of the St. Thomas Harbor.

Directions to the site are as follows: The project site is located offshore of the town of Charlotte Amalie, in the vicinity of the West Indian Company, Ltd. (WICO) dock. WICO’s dock is located on the eastern end of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, to the east of Yacht Haven Grande.

St. Thomas Harbor Site = Latitude: 18.3309° N; Longitude: -64.9284° W
Lindbergh Bay Site = Latitude: 18.3339° N; Longitude: -64.9672° W


Basic: Commercial navigation.

Overall: Increase the depth of the entrance channel, turning basin, and berthing areas at Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI, to provide safe navigation and berthing for Oasis class cruise ships.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: Charlotte Amalie Harbor is an active marine harbor with continuous operation of cruise vessels, large pleasure yachts, power boats, commercial vessels and sail boats. The harbor also receives large amounts of runoff carrying potential pollutants from surrounding uplands and watersheds. Different areas of the harbor have been dredged several times over the years and the seabed in the dredged areas is covered by fine silty material that is easily re-suspended. Water quality data was collected in the harbor during previous studies in 2009. Turbidity levels averaged between 1.5 and 0.63 NTUs. Water samples from May 2018 revealed similar results.

Sediments within the proposed project areas consist primarily of sand and silty sand. The material is siltier within the turning basin area, and the material at the east end of the WICO dock contains some soft to medium clay. The material in the entrance channel and along the majority of the WICO dock is predominantly clean sand with minimal fine content, including some shell, shell hash, and gravel. Surface sediments in the harbor and entrance channel were sampled and analyzed for heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, zinc, and copper in order to evaluate the toxicity of the material and to determine the potential risk of degradation of the environment during the dredging and disposal of the dredged material. Results indicate that the sediments sampled are not enriched and that all values are below the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Effects Range-Median (ERM) guideline, the concentrations at which adverse effects frequently occur. The majority of the samples (97%) are below NOAA’s Effects Range-Low (ERL) guideline, the concentrations below which adverse effects rarely occur. Additional sediment sampling was undertaken in 2016. The sample results showed some elevated metals within the sediments, especially in vessel docking and mooring areas. Arsenic, which is a common in areas with fuel spill and combustion engine exhaust, is present near the dock and in the mooring field. Chromium and selenium are also related to vessel activity. The elevated lead, copper and zinc area all related to boat paint and corrosion protection. Despite the presence of these materials in the sediments, none of these metals showed potentials for leaching.

Benthic habitats within the proposed project areas have been surveyed repeatedly over the last 20 years for various projects undertaken by both Virgin Islands Port Authority and West Indies Company Ltd. The most recent studies were completed for this application in May 2018. Surveys were undertaken on SCUBA looking for changes since the previous studies and to collect samples for chemical and grain size analysis. Despite repeated disturbance and alterations over the years the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the Entrance Channel, and the West Indies Company (WICO) Dock continue to support a diverse and abundant benthic community.

NOAA’s Biogeography Program Benthic Habitat Maps depict that the navigation entrance channel to Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the turning basing, and WICO’s berthing areas consist mainly of previously dredged areas dominated by mud and sand. The benthic maps also show seagrass communities of 50 to 70% along the channel’s western fringe and continuous seagrass along the eastern fringe. According to the surveys conducted in both areas, seagrass is present down to and into areas of the channel that have been previously dredged, and seagrass has recolonized areas from which it was transplanted before prior to a previous maintenance dredging. The seagrass beds shown in NOAA’s benthic map are currently a mixture of seagrass, algae and Halophila species. Both Halophila decipiens (a native species) and Halophila stipulacea (an invasive species) are present. The seagrass on the eastern side of the channel appears to be in the range of 50% coverage rather than continuous and is a mixture of Thalassia testudinum and Syringodium filiforme with Halophila stipulacea scattered amid the seagrass and in large dense patches. The seagrass to the west of the channel is more in the 30% to 50% range rather than 50 to 70%. Rupert’s Rock and its hardbottom areas depicted on NOAA’s map were found to be colonized by a diversity of coral and sponge species. The inner portion of St. Thomas Harbor is delineated as mud. This was found to be a combination of seagrass, Halophila stipulacea, scattered coral heads and scattered algal species.

The seafloor in the inner corner of the harbor’s turning basin is a very silty fine muddy sand. A significant amount of additional fine material was deposited during the hurricanes and associated rainfall of September 2017. There is a coat of sediment on all surfaces within the area. There are large boulders scattered throughout the basin as well as debris ranging from metal hatches to large pieces of concrete. Some of the boulders and hard substrates are colonized by pink lumpy sponge (Desmapsamma anchorata). There are some black urchins (Diadema antillarum) and anemones (Bartholomea annulata and Condylactis gigantea). The seafloor of the center berthing area is primarily uncolonized due to the impact of the ships’ prop and thruster wash.

Along WICO’s berthing area the seafloor levels out at approximately 30 ft. There are scattered patches of Halophila stipulacea as well as Caulerpa prolifera and C. Mexicana, Dasycladus vermicularis, Udotea flabellum and Halimeda incrassata. These beds are not contiguous and the colonization ranges from 0 to 65% total bottom cover. The amount of H. stipulacea increases to the west and south and become continuous beds to the west with less than 5% algal colonization. A very occasional, < 0.1%, shoot of Thalassia testudinum is encountered. The algae and seagrass are all outside of the area of proposed maintenance dredging along the bulkhead.

The very center of the navigation entrance channel has the least colonization with less than 1% overall colonization by Halophila stipulacea, algal species and an occasional sponge. Turbidity is usually high due to ship movements resuspending fine bottom sediments. The minimally colonized area narrows to the south. Moving seaward and outward to the sides within the channel the density of benthic colonization increases and there are scattered patches of algae; Halimeda, Caulerpa, Dictyota, Udotea, Avrainvillea, and Penicillus as well as Halophila stipulacea some which are dense and cover large areas. Moving south along the outer edges of the channel sparse seagrass; Thalassia, Syringodium and to a lesser extend Halodule become intermixed with Halophila stipulacea and algal species. The percentage of seagrass within the benthic community increases to the south. In 2013-2014 the seagrass density was still less dense in the areas previously dredged and Halophila stipulacea was more abundant. In 2018 seagrass density has increased and it is a closer mix of H. stipulacea and seagrass species. Seagrass remains denser to the east side of the channel. There are relatively dense areas of Thalassia intermixed with some Syringoduim at the southern extreme of the channel. The southeastern portions of the channel are not as densely colonized and more H. stipulacea is present. Halophila decipiens is also present from mid channel south, it is found in patches often adjacent to the H. stipulacea. Along the southeastern portion of the channel there are areas where small boulders and rocks and in some cases rock pavement extend into the channel. On these hard substrates some coral colonization (<1%) is present. Noted were Siderastrea siderea, Agaricia fragilis, Porites astreoides and Meandrina meandrites.

Rupert’s Rock is located to the east of the channel. Rupert’s Rock is a massive rocky outcropping with channels and grottoes which rise to the water surface. There is a channel marker identifying the edge of this rocky outcropping. The sediments to the east of the outcrop are finer than they are to the west in the channel. There are seagrasses Syringodium, Halodule and Halophila stipulacea to the east and sparse seagrass, Halophila stipulacea, and algae makes up a high percentage of the benthic community in the harbor to the west. Rupert’s Rock is colonized by a variety of coral species, and there are very large heads of the ESA listed threatened corals Orbicella annularis, O. franksi, O. faveolata and Dendrogyra cylindrus. Other corals seen on Rupert’s Rock include Siderastrea siderea, Diploria strigosa, D. labyrinthiformis, Agaracia fragilis, A. agaracia, Porites porites, and P. astreoides. The grottos and grooves create habitat for numerous fish and invertebrate species, including the Nassau Grouper, (Epinephelus striatus), which was observed during the surveys and is also an ESA listed threatened species. The coral colonization becomes denser with depth on Rupert’s Rock and the abundance of coral and sponge species is greater on the eastern side of the rock. There is scattered wreckage on the rock, and old cables with spikes along their lengths, which are part of World War II era harbor defenses. Acropora palmata colonies were found in the shallows on both sides of the rock structure in 2008. During the 2018 surveys one of these colonies was found on the western side. It appears to have been damaged by the hurricane and is recovering. Numerous broken corals were noted during the 2018 survey. Broken pieces of Dendrogyra and Orbicella were also noted in the sand.

The bedrock structure of Hassel Island extends offshore on the northern end adjacent to the channel and to the south below the fort. In these areas the rock provides hard bottom substrate for the colonization of corals and sponges. To the north, the rock extends to a maximum depth of 10 ft. There are large coral heads on the rock substrate and in the shallow surrounding plain, including Orbicella annularis and Dendrogyra cylindrus. Also present are Siderastrea siderea, Stephanocoenia michilini, Porites astreiodes, P. porites, S. radians, Millepora alcicornis and M. complanata. At the base of the hard bottom habitat to the north there is a mixture of gravel, cobble and coarse sand and as the bottom slopes into the channel algae becomes dense and intermittent seagrass, Thalassia testudinum and Syringodium filiforme, become scattered within the Halophila stipulacea and algal beds. There is an embayment along the shore to the south, which in the shallows is a mixture of sand, cobble, and gravel with scattered rubble off shore. There are scattered seagrass and Halophila stipulacea and algal beds, and there is coral colonization on scattered boulders and cobbles. Below the Fort to the south the bedrock is again exposed. On this southern end the bed rock extends to greater depth and there is a greater diversity and abundance of coral species. Siderastrea sidereal, Orbicella annularis, Montastrea cavernosa, Stephanocoenia michilini, Dichocoenia stokesii, Agarica agaricites, Meandrina meandrites, Porites astreiodes, P. porites, S. radians, Dendrogyra cylindrus, Millepora alcicornis and M. complanata are common. Two colonies of Acropora palmata were found in the shallows just below the fort in May of 2018, one was badly damaged and the other had several broken limbs. No Acropora cervicornis were found in any of the surveys. At this southern end of Hassel Island, the rock is exposed to a depth of approximately 20’ where the seafloor levels out and there is a grooved reef before the seafloor slopes into the channel. Here, to the north the slopes gradually become colonized by algae. Seagrass species are intermittently scattered amid the algae and H. stipulacea.

To the east of the navigation entrance channel to Charlotte Amalie Harbor there are well developed reefs with relatively high (>25%) coral colonization. These reefs are well outside the defined channel. This reef has a lot of vertical relief with deep grottos and steep walls. The reefs support large colonies of Orbicella annularis, O. faveolata, O. franksi, and Dendrogyra cylindrus. Also noted were Eusmilia fastigiata, Montastrea cavernosa, Diploria labyrinthiformis, D. strigosa, Siderastrea siderea, Porites astreoides, P. porites, Agaricia fragilis, A. agaricites, Madracis decacti, Sephanocenia intersepta, Dichocoenia stokesii and Meandrina meandrites. The anchor block for the channel marker Red 4 is sitting right on of one of the outer reefs and has cause significant damage with its anchor chain.

To the west of the navigation channel there is colonized rock pavement which extends into the channel. This is a sparsely colonized pavement with less than 10% combined coral and sponge colonization. The pavement is colonized by widely scattered, Diploria strigosa, Siderastrea siderea, Porites astreoides and Meandrina meandrites. Rocks and small boulders from the edge of the pavement have roll down into the channel. Many of these rocks and boulders are colonized with corals and sponges.

NOAA’s Benthic Habitat Maps depict the shoreline of Lindbergh Bay as reef colonized bed rock, with varying densities of seagrass throughout the bay. The dredged hole within the bay is depicted as uncolonized sandy bottom. Surveys confirm that the shorelines are reef colonized bedrock, and seagrass is scattered throughout the bay. There are however scattered remnant patch reefs to the south of the hole and some coral and rubble scattered down the slope into the hole to the south. The coral and coral colonized rubble extends closer to the hole than depicted on the western side of the hole, and seagrasses occur to the north and along the northern fringes of the hole.

The Lindbergh Bay Hole is located in the middle of the inner bay. To the north of the dredge hole is the sloping sandy beach which grades into seagrass beds composed of Thalassia testudinum, and Syringodium filiforme and mixed with Halophila stipulacea. Depth within the hole influences the density and diversity of the seagrass beds therein. Seagrasses extending into the hole becomes less dense with depth. Halophila stipulacea is the most abundant colonizer in the hole and extends down to depths of 36-37ft. Some Thalassia shoots have come up through the H. stipulacea down to depths of 26ft., but these represent less than 2% of the total bottom coverage. At 37-38ft there is primarily algal colonization with an occasional runner of H. stipulacea. Dictyota, and Halimeda and Caulerpa were the most abundant algal species and combined represent approximately 30% bottom coverage. Only a very small amount of Halophila decipiens, the native Halophila species, was found in a few small patches. Several loose corals which were still viable were found in the hole which had apparently been washed into the hole by the hurricanes. The algae Halimeda, Avrianvillea, Acanthophora spicifera, Neomeris annulata, Padina, Udota flabellum, Penicillus capitatus, Caulerpa, Codium and Laurencia are present in the shallower grassbeds. Queen conch (Strombus gigas), milk conch Strombus costatus, fighting conch (Strombus alatus), roostertail conch (Strombus gallus), sea cucumbers (Holothuria arenicola) and urchins (Tripneustes ventricosis and Lytechinus variegates) were primarily seen in the shallower seagrass beds but several fighting conch were found in the hole as well as several large hermit crabs. There are numerous burrowing shrimp mounds (Callianassa sp.) throughout the side slopes and floor of the hole. Mixed H. stipulacea and seagrass beds are present on the edges of the hole around the northern and eastern sides and around portions of the western and southern sides. Within the southern portion of the dredged hole scattered coral rock rubble was noted and as the water depth decreased on the southern side of the hole some scattered corals (primarily Siderastrea siderea) were noted, nearing the top edge of the hole and on the sand plain beyond to the south and the west there are small scattered coral outcroppings and patch reefs which are colonized by Siderastea siderea, Diploria strigosa, Diploria labyrinthiformis, and Orbicella annularis. Along the western fringe of the hole, the dredging cut into an area which was a mixture of coral colonized hardbottom (to the south) and seagrass beds (to the north). A detailed survey was made along the eastern shoreline to the point in 2009, and only one acroporid coral recruit was found; in 2018 no Acropora was found. The detailed survey on the western shoreline in 2009 found Acropora palmata colonies on the rocky outcropping which used to have a bar and restaurant on it. The doorway is cut through the rock and a large concrete slab and other related debris is scattered around the rocky point. A single colony of Acropora cervicornis was noted to the southeast on the rocky headland. In 2018 several Acropora colonies were noted to have suffered damage from the 2017 hurricanes.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge approximately 255,118 cubic yards of sediments from a combined area of approximately 60 acres at the bottom of the turning basin in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the entrance channel to the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, and the WICO cruise ship berth. The entrance channel would be dredged to a controlling depth of 40 feet below Mean Lowest Low Water (MLLW), the West Indian Company (WICO) berth would be dredged to 36 feet below MLLW, and the adjacent turning basin would be dredged to a minimum depth of 38 feet below MLLW. The proposed dredging would not increase the width of the entrance channel from its current 400 ft. Dredging would be conducted using a barge mounted mechanical dredge with a crane and a clam shell bucket, which would spud down into the sea bead to hold position. Dredged material would be placed on a floating containment barge, tethered alongside the clamshell dredge barge, where it would be initially de-watered. Excess water from the dredged material in the barge would be discharged back into the harbor in a controlled manner. The dredged material would be transported by barge either to the area behind the Veterans Drive bulkhead, or to the Sand Fill in Crown Bay and then offloaded into trucks to be carried to Cancryn Field.

The dredged spoils from the project would be used for a variety of beneficial uses. Sediments dredged from areas with elevated metal content would be used as fill material for the Veterans Drive Expansion Project, which was authorized through Department of the Army Permit number SAJ-1996-01459 (SP-JCM) on July 27, 2017. It is estimated that approximately 132,063 cubic yards of sediments would be dredged from areas having elevated metal content. Sediments dredged from high metal content areas would be directly transported and discharged via barge behind the Veterans Drive bulkhead. Sediments dredged from areas with normal metal content would be transported to Cancryn Field, where they would be completely de-watered, sorted, and temporarily stored prior to final disposal. Sediments of appropriate size and texture would be used for beach nourishment at Lindbergh Bay and other hurricane impacted beaches in the Territory of the USVI. It is estimated that approximately 195,000 cubic yards of dredged sediments, including all the material with elevated metal content, would be used for the Veterans Drive Expansion Project. Most of the remaining 60,000 cubic yards of dredged sediments would be used for beach nourishment. Any excess material not used for beach nourishment would be transported by barge and discharged through a tremie tube (i.e., an extended tube or pipe that will allow for controlled underwater placement of dredge material) into the deepest area of the Lindbergh Bay Hole. It is anticipated that no more than 20,000 cubic yards of dredged sediments would be discharged into the Lindbergh Bay Hole.

The proposed dredging project is expected to be completed in approximately 24 months. Seagrasses and corals found within the proposed dredging footprint would be transplanted to adjacent sites east and west of the harbor’s entrance channel prior to commencing in-water work. The project would impact approximately 1.594 acres of T. testudinum dominated seagrass beds, of which 1.394 acres would be transplanted. The project would also impact approximately 0.664 acre of S. filiforme dominated seagrass beds, of which 0.564 acre will be transplanted. In addition, the project would impact approximately 0.39 acre of H. decipiens dominated seagrass beds, all of which would be transplanted. Furthermore, the project would result in the relocation of approximately 200 colonies of non ESA listed corals from the project footprint.

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: There are seagrass resources as well as some coral resources which have colonized hard substrates within the entrance channel to Charlotte Amalie Harbor. These resources would be transplanted outside of the project footprint prior to dredging in that area to minimize overall impact of the project. Seagrasses would be transplanted to the east of the channel, while corals would be transplanted to the west of the channel. Surface sediments in the harbor and entrance channel were sampled for heavy metals. The sample results showed some elevated metals within the sediments, especially in areas were vessels were docking and mooring. Despite the presence of these materials in the sediments, none of these metals showed potentials for leaching. The sediment disposal barge would have a steel containment wall around the perimeter of the deck which would contain the dredge material and prevent the uncontrolled overflow of any entrained water. Excess water may be allowed to drain through small openings cut into the wall. The openings would be covered with suitable filter material (e.g. filter fabric, hay bales, a combination) to prevent the release of fines or turbid water back into the bay. All barges would be surrounded by turbidity barriers during in water work. The dredged material would be discharged by methods that would minimize the re-suspension of solids and minimize impacts to water quality. The primary goal is to place the dredged material in a controlled manner with final discharge at an appropriate depth below the water surface. A tremie tube would be used to discharge the material. A tremie tube is simply an extended tube or pipe that would allow for controlled underwater placement of dredged material. The bottom of the tube would be extended to a short distance from the seafloor and would be slowly moved as the material is deposited on the seafloor. This allows the dredged material to disperse over a smaller area, and minimizes water quality impacts. The turbidity control devices would consist of turbidity curtains/screens which would completely surround the dredge material placement area. The curtain, which is suspended in the water column by floatation billets, would be anchored in place by medium size anchors, soil augers, or small steel h-piles to provide a protective seal along the bottom. Such a device lets water through and retains sediments as small as 10 microns, therefore acting as a settling area. The curtain would include a small gate area that can be opened and closed to allow loaded and empty material barges the sufficient ingress and egress. Water quality, sediment loading and environmental monitoring would be undertaken throughout the dredging and potential sand placement in the hole in Lindbergh Bay. The monitor would watch for the effectiveness of the siltation control devices and will request additional controls or slowing or ceasing of dredging when turbidity rises above acceptable levels. Quadrats would be established around the dredge area and potential fill area and would be watched for changes or degradation as a result of the dredging project and if negative changes are noted methods would be implemented to abate these impacts. Special focus would be placed on ESA species which surround the sites. In addition, during construction activities the following protocols would be implemented and followed, as applicable to the Puerto Rico region: NMFS Sea Turtle & Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions; NOAA Vessel Strike Avoidance and Reporting Guidelines; and USFWS Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: In order to compensate for the 0.2 acre of T. testudinum and 0.1acre of S. filiforme that cannot be transplanted due to H. stipulacea, and any other impacts which may arise from the dredging project, a minimum of 0.5 acre of debris surrounding the channel in the surrounding seagrass beds and coral colonized areas would be collected and properly disposed of in uplands.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the USVI State Historic Preservation Office 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, by separate letter.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect nesting individuals of the federally listed threatened Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles, and the federally listed endangered Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. The Corps has also determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the federally listed threatened West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus). Similarly, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the federally listed endangered Blue (Balaenoptera musculus), Fin (Balaenoptera physalus), Humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), Sei (Balaneoptera borealis) and Sperm (Physeter microcephalus) whales; the federally listed threatened Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), Giant manta ray (Manta birostris), Oceanic white tip shark (Carcharinus lonigmanus), and Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini); as well as swimming individuals of the federally listed threatened Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles, and the federally listed endangered Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. In addition, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the federally listed threatened Mountainous star (Orbicella faveolata), Lobed star (Orbicella annularis), Boulder star coral (Orbicella franksi), Elkhorn (Acropora palmata), Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis), and Pilar (Dendrogyra cylindrus) corals. Finally, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the designated critical habitat for Elkhorn and Staghorn corals. Via separate letter the Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Services concurrence with these determinations, as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

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 of 1996. According to information provided by the applicant, the proposed project would impact approximately 60 acres of marine bottom, which may be utilized by various life stages of federally managed species within the U.S. Caribbean. Based on the available information, the Corps initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Caribbean Sea. 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, Habitat Conservation Division.

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.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: A Water Quality Certificate from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Environmental Resources, Division of Environmental Protection (DPNR-DEP) will be required.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Antilles Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos Annex, Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918, within 30 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 waters of the United States (WOTUS). 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, José A. Cedeño-Maldonado, in writing at the Antilles Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos Annex, Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918, by electronic mail at or by telephone at (787) 729-6944.

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, aesthetics, 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 the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management 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.