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: City of Fellsmere
Attn: Jason Nunemaker
22 South Orange Street
Fellsmere, Florida 32948
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Sebastian River. The project site is located southeast of intersection of 89th Street and South Broadway Street, within Section 30, Township 31 South, Range 37 East, City of Fellsmere, Indian River County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of State Road 512 and Willow Street proceed south on Willow Street. Turn west onto 89th Street. The entrance to the site is located in the southeast corner of the 89th Street and South Broadway Street intersection.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Stormwater Management
Overall: The overall project purpose is the construction of a regional stormwater pond within the City of Fellsmere utilizing the existing city owned park.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area currently supports nine land use types/vegetative communities. These land use types/vegetative communities were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCCS, FDOT, January 1999). Wetland communities within the project area comprise approximately 15.9 acres and consist of Ditches - 510, Reservoirs - 530, Exotic Wetland Hardwood - 618, Hydric Pine Flatwoods - 625, and Wet Prairies – 643. The on-site upland land use types/vegetative communities comprise approximately 25.64 acres and consist of Pine Flatwoods - 411, Oak-Pine-Hickory - 423, and Disturbed Land - 740.
Historically, the City property was likely dominated by pine flatwoods (411), hydric pine flatwoods (625) and wet prairie (643). Earth work associated with an aquaculture facility and sand mining operation has resulted in changes to the historic communities. The western side of the property has a Disturbed Lands (740) classification due to loamy soils at the ground surface that were excavated from deeper down in the soil profile which are currently subject to vehicular traffic associated with the existing use and maintenance of the public park. The four borrow ponds (530) are man-made surface waters resulting from the sand mining operation. There park also has areas throughout the site that appear to be altered by heavy equipment. Some of these excavated areas are now classified as wetlands such as willow and elderberry (618) and wet prairie (643). Most of the eight wetlands classified as hydric pine flatwoods (426) on the eastern and southern portion of the site appear to be in a predominately natural condition. Stands of mature live oaks (423) along the northern property boundary show evidence of old citrus furrows running in an east/west direction. Historic aerial photos that were found for the site do not confirm citrus production as a historic land use but the topography along the northern boundary indicates that citrus production was likely attempted at some point. A dense stand of Australian pine (619) with hydric soils that contain mucky mineral at the soil surface is located on the eastern boundary of the site. The site also contains ditches (510) that appear to have been excavated from both upland and wetland communities.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge and fill 10.0 acres of waters of the United States (wetlands and other waters) for construction of a regional stormwater management system. The proposed action would also include improvements to the existing city park.
The intent of the project is to improve water quality within the Sebastian River and Indian River Lagoon by constructing a treatment train system of five interconnected ponds to serve a 585-acre watershed in Fellsmere, Indian River County. The project will intercept and treat a Fellsmere Water Control District (FWCD) drainage canal known as locally as Ditch 18 and identified in this report as Surface Water 6. The water treated by the system will discharge back to Ditch 18 / SW6 which ultimately discharges to the Indian River Lagoon. The construction plans for the water treatment system that has been reviewed and approved by the St. Johns Water Management District.
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: The original design of the stormwater retrofit system utilized nearly all the City’s 41.54 acre property. Although this design maximized the treatment capability of the retrofit system it did not account for impacts to onsite wetland systems and the associated mitigation costs. Once the extent of wetlands with the property was established, the project was redesigned to avoid wetlands on the eastern side and southwestern side of the property. The wetlands on the property in the most natural condition are 0.668 acre hydric pine flatwoods on the south side known as Wetland 2.
One of the several design modifications included construction of a flowway around Wetland 2 but Staff at the St Johns Water Management District (SJRWMD) had concerns about hydrologic drawdown of this wetland resulting from the surrounding treatment system. To avoid cost prohibitive mitigation requirements for Wetland 2 the project design was further modified to eliminate the flow way on the west side of Wetland 2 entirely.
Engineering Staff at the SJRWMD concurred that the proposed design would not result in adverse hydrologic impacts to Wetland 2. The final proposed design successfully excluded every wetland within the property with the exception of the 0.025-acre Wetland 19. Besides this small wetland, the project water quality improvement project will only result in the modification of man-made surface waters limited to sand mine borrow ponds and upland cut ditches.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The water quality improvement project will result in alterations to surface waters of upland cut ditches and borrow ponds and a single 0.025-acre wetland. These impacts will result from the construction of a stormwater retrofit system to serve a 585-acre watershed. In the completed design, the five interconnected treatment ponds are estimated to remove 850 pounds of nitrogen and 219 pounds of phosphorus per year. As a result of the project, pollutants will be removed from waters discharging to the Indian River Lagoon, an impaired state waterbody, FDEP Aquatic Preserve and an EPA-designated “Estuary of National Significance.” The design of the stormwater retrofit system was modified to limit adverse impacts to water resources to a low quality 0.025-acre wetland and man-made borrow ponds and ditches. The regional water quality benefits of the project far outweigh the proposed adverse impacts to a low-quality wetland and artificial surface waters and, therefore, the project should be self-mitigating. No mitigation is proposed or warranted for the proposed regional water quality improvement project.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The action area includes the entire 41.54± acre project site. The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) wood stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of one rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Peninsular Florida (dated May 2010), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (Project impacts SFH at a location greater than 0.47 miles from a colony site) > B (Project impact to SFH is greater in scope than 0.5 acres) > C (Project impacts to SFH within the CFA of a colony site) > E (Project provides SFH compensation) = NLAA. The project provides SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation (and federal mitigation bank credits) that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of the impacted SFH; in accordance with the Clean Water Act section 404(b)(1) guidelines, and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 1, 2017), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: 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 construction.) > C (The project will impact less than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat.) > D (The project has no known holes, cavities, active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows, or other underground refugia where a snake could be buried, trapped and/or injured during project activities) = not likely to adversely affect. The Corps has USFWS concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
Based on existing habitat types and/or provided survey information, the Corps determined the project will have no effect to the red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), and Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposed work would have no effect to EFH.
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 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, Andrew Phillips, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by fax at (321) 504-3803, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 extension 14.
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 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.