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: St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street
Palatka, FL 32177
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States, including wetlands, associated with Black Creek, Alligator Creek, and Lake Brooklyn. The project site is located in Sections 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 27, 28, 33, and 34, Township 6 South, Range 6 East, in Sections 25, 35, and 36, Township 7 South, Range 24 East, in Sections 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 30, Township 7 South, Range 24 East, in Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10, Township 8 South, Range 23 East, Clay County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Intake Structure: Latitude 29.979908°
Outfall Structure: Latitude: 29.817205°
Basic: The basic project purpose is aquifer recharge.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to recharge the Upper Floridan Aquifer in Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project corridor encompasses two community types characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). These community types are mixed forested wetlands (FLUCFCS code 630) and freshwater marshes (FLUCFCS code 641).
Vegetation within the mixed forested wetlands includes black gum (Nyssa sylvatica var.biflora), red maple (Acer rubrum), water oak (Quercus nigra), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), water hickory (Carya aquatica), swamp bay (Persea palustris), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and bald cypress (Taxiodium distichum). Understory and ground cover species include button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Virginia chainfern (Woodwardia virginica), wild bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnomomea), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis).
Vegetation within the freshwater marshes includes Primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), frog fruit (Phyla nodiflora), Bacopa caroliniana, and cattail (Typha angustifolia). The project site is bordered by State Road 16, and Camp Blanding.
The applicant seeks authorization to permanently impact 0.75 acre of freshwater wetlands and temporary impact 8.79 acres of freshwater wetlands associated with the construction of a raw water intake structure in the South Fork of Black Creek, a pump station, a 17-mile-long 30-inch raw water transmission line, and a raw water outfall structure in Alligator Creek.
The applicant proposes to withdraw an average of 10 million gallons a day (based on a calculated daily average during each month) from the South Fork of Black Creek when the flow exceeds 25 cubic feet per second. Raw water would be withdrawn from the South Fork of Black Creek and pumped a distance of approximately 17 miles and discharged into Alligator Creek, which flows into Lake Brooklyn.
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 applicant indicated that the intake structure must be located within open-waters of the South Fork of Black Creek; and, therefore, the total avoidance of work within waters of the United States is not practical. The applicant indicated that minimization of work affecting waters of the United States, including wetlands, was accomplished by siting the pump associated with the intake structure in uplands and by limiting the size and placement of the intake structure. The pipeline from the pump station to the intake structure would be constructed below floodplain wetlands via micro-tunneling to avoid wetland impacts. The proposed raw water transmission line would be installed underneath wetland areas using Horizontal Direction Drilling techniques.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant proposes to purchase federal mitigation bank credits to offset unavoidable wetland impacts.
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 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, by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Black Creek crayfish (Procambarus pictus). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The proposed project is within the consultation area for the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The proposed project corridor does not support the designated critical habitat or nesting and foraging habitat for these species. Any use of the project corridor by these species is likely limited to opportunistic foraging, which the project would not preclude. Therefore, the Corps determined that the project would have no effect on Red-cockaded woodpeckers and Florida scrub jays.
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. Due to the proposed withdrawal of water, the Corps concludes the flow of South Fork of Black Creek and, hence, downstream waters would be affected. Therefore, our initial determination is that the proposed action might have an adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in Black Creek, the St. Johns River, and/or the Atlantic Ocean. 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32232 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 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, Shannon White, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32232; by electronic mail at email@example.com; or, by telephone at (904) 232-1681.
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.