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:
Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND)
Attn: Mark Crosley
1314 Marcinski Road
Jupiter, FL 33477
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Tarpon cove project is located within the Lake Worth Lagoon adjacent to the El Cid neighborhood and approximately one-mile East of I-95 from Belvedere Road (Section 33 Township 43 and South, Range 43 East), West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Exit I-95 East on Belvedere road and continue east for approximately 1 mile. The project is located within the Lake Worth Lagoon adjacent to the El Cid neighborhood in West Palm Beach.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to allow the beneficial re-use of dredged material from the FIND maintenance dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to be disposed of within a previously authorized aquatic enhancement/restoration area.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to allow the beneficial re-use of dredged material from the FIND ICW within the Tarpon Cove aquatic enhancement and restoration project area within Lake Worth Lagoon in Palm Beach County.
PROJECT HISTORY: By permit dated February 15, 2018, the Corps authorized the Palm Beachy County Department of Environmental Resource Management to restore and enhance the aquatic environment of Tarpon Cove. The project consists entirely of restoration through the capping of muck sediments and the creation of suitable seagrass habitat where none exists currently. Project components include the following:
Placement of 104,000 yds3 of compatible material to cap muck sediments within a 15.9-acre dredge hole;
Placement of 289,400 yds3 of compatible material to a depth of -5.5 feet NAVD in order to provide 34.8 acres of seagrass habitat.
Placement of 21,600 yds3 of compatible material to create six (6) emergent islands to provide 2.4 acres of intertidal habitat. The intertidal areas will be planted with red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), seedlings and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora).
Placement of 3,600 yds3 of compatible material to create 0.3 acres island area above MHW to create coastal bird nesting habitat No planting of the bird island is proposed.
Placement of 15,030 yds3 of clean limestone rip rap for island stabilization and breakwaters to provide 2.1 acres of oyster habitat. Breakwaters include 2,600 linear feet if riprap surrounding the six (6) emergent islands and 440 linear feet of rip rap surrounding the bird islands, along with 780 linear feet of artificial reef/oyster habitat area between the various islands. Island breakwaters constructed to an elevation of +2.2 feet NAVD and the artificial reef /breakwaters constructed to -0.5 to +1.5 feet NAVD.
All project components will be constructed with lagoon compatible material consisting of clean sand and limestone boulders. Materials will be transported to the project area via barge and may be placed by excavators and/or conveyor belt systems.
By permit dated October 12, 2017, the Corps issued FIND a permit (SAJ-2017-00503(GP), to maintenance dredge a portion of the federally authorized Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) navigation channel (Cut PB-36, Station 29+00) to the Town of Palm Beach Docks (Cut PB-41, Station 6+81), Palm Beach Florida, to the federally authorized depths, 125-feet wide (base width), 3 (horizontal):1(vertical) side slopes, and a bottom elevation of -10 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) with an allowable 2-foot over dredge depth. Approximately 85,000 cubic yards (cy) is proposed to be dredged over a project area of ± 67 acres (or ±48 acres in the current shoaled areas). Material will be either hydraulically or mechanically dredged and placed into the FIND-owned Peanut Island Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA).
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project footprint encompasses approximately 46 acres of submerged bottoms west of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) within the Lake Worth Lagoon, including a 15.9 acre dredge hole along the westernmost project limits. Depths within the project area average 7-9’ along the western edge of the ICWW, with greater depths of 12-14’ within the dredge hole. Substrate consists primarily of fine sand and silt within the shallowest areas and a thick layer of organic muck within the dredge hole. No seagrass or other submerged resources exist in the project footprint, with benthic resource surveys conducted in May 2016 and June 2017.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to dispose of dredged material within the previously federally authorized Tarpon Cove enhancement of the aquatic environment project area.
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 enhancement and restoration project consists entirely of restoration through the capping of muck sediments and the creation of suitable seagrass habitat where none exists currently. All project components will be constructed with lagoon compatible material consisting of clean sand and limestone boulders. Materials will be transported to the project area via barge and may be placed by excavators and/or conveyor belt systems. Drafts of construction barges will vary between 3-5’ depending on the load of material. Turbidity curtains will be deployed as necessary to prevent sediment plumes from exceeding standards. Curtains will surround the ongoing work footprint in the smallest footprint possible to minimize potential impacts to local navigation. The contractor will monitor turbidity levels during filling activities.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: No impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation are being proposed or are anticipated therefore no compensatory mitigation should be required. The purpose of the project is to restore and enhance the aquatic environment.
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, if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
Endangered Species: The Corps evaluated potential project related effects to the threatened manatee by using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, (Key) dated April 2013. Using the Key, the Corps came to a “May Affect” determination: path A>B(2). However, the Corps has determined the proposal may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the threatened West Indian Manatee, and would not adversely modify its designated critical habitat (DCH) because that the overall project will have a beneficial effect on the manatee through the restoration and enhancement activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife has already provided concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and no further consultation is required.
The 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), and Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), the threatened smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and the threatened Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), and would not adversely modify their designated critical habitat. The National Marine Fisheries Service has already provided concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and no further consultation is 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 project is anticipated to impact approximately 46 acres or 2,003,760 square feet of benthic substrate for the purpose of restoration and enhancement of the aquatic environment, 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. The Corps 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 potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Palm Beach Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410, or by electronic mail at Linda.C.Knoeck@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (561) 472-3531 within 15 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, Linda C. Knoeck, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Linda.C.Knoeck@usace.army.mil, or, by telephone at (561)472-3531.
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.