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: Port Tampa Bay
1101 Channel Side Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with East Bay. The project site is located at 3409 Causeway Boulevard, in Section 29, Township 29 South, Range 19 East, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-4 in Tampa, take Exit 1 to North 21st Street. Head south and take South 20th Street all the way to South 22nd Street. The project site will be on the right after crossing the 22nd Street bridge.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 27.923243°
Overall: To expand existing port facilities (and associated dredging) to accommodate additional demand for deep-water cargo service in the Port Tampa Bay area.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is an existing basin at Port Tampa Bay. Prior to the 1960’s East Bay was a natural estuarine bay, subsequent development in the Port area has created a more man-made appearance. The site is adjacent to the existing berths 151 and 152. The current conditions at the site consist of 19 acres of paved uplands created under previous permits. The shoreline is riprapped to a depth of approximately -18 MLW. The existing unconsolidated bottom slopes down to a depth of -43 MLW. There are no upland, emergent or submerged vegetative communities present on site. Immediately upstream is McKay Bay and downstream is Tampa Bay both of which are tidally influenced.
PROPOSED WORK – The applicant seeks authorization to conduct the following: Construct a 63 acre upland expansion to create 7 new deep water berths, associated backlands and dredging of berths and turning basin. The construction of the new berths will require the placement of 7,080 linear feet of bulkhead along the frontage of the berths, 63 acres of backfill and the dredging of approximately 14 acres of bay bottom to a depth of -34 feet plus 2 feet of over-dredge for berths 155 through 158 and approximately 42 acres of bay bottom to a depth of -43 feet plus 2 feet of over-dredge for berths 152 through 154. Due to the large costs associated with a project of this scale it will be constructed in three major phases. Each phase of construction may be split into sub-phases to be constructed as funds become available. Ultimately Phase 1 will consist of ±34 acres of fill, installation of ±1,290 linear feet of steel sheet pile for berth 152, installation of ±1,815 linear feet of steel sheet pile for berth 157 and 158, ±2.5 acres of dredging for berth 152, ±5.8 acres of dredging for berths 157 and 158 and ±8.5 acres of dredging for turning basin 1. Phase 2 will consist of ±18.5 acres of fill, installation of ±1,360 linear feet of steel sheet pile to construct berth 153, installation of ±1,000 linear feet of steel sheet pile for berth 156, ±4.76 acres of dredging for berth 153 and ±3.4 acres of dredging for berth 156. Phase 3 will consist of ±10.5 acres of fill, installation of ±950 linear feet of steel sheet pile to construct berth 154, installation of ±1,000 linear feet of steel sheet pile for berth 155, ±4.19 acres of dredging for berth 154 and ±3.44 acres of dredging for berth 155.
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:
Avoidance and minimization for this project is accomplished through site selection. The proposed site has no SAVs, shallow water, hard bottom or vegetation. Additional avoidance and minimization was accomplished through design modifications.
Designs are limited for this type of construction and were therefore limited to a pile supported deck structure and a filled upland encapsulated within a steel bulkhead or cellular structure. The pile supported deck structure was considered initially as this method of construction would minimize impacts by avoiding loss of submerged lands via filling and reduce mitigation requirements. However, the cost for this type of structure were originally estimated at approximately $1,200,000,000.00 (order of magnitude) which would place a large financial burden on the port’s CIP budget. The underlying sediments within East Bay are also problematic for this type of structure due to their high percentage of clays and silts. Previous geotechnical studies in this bay have recommended extended pile lengths which would further increase costs and lower financial feasibility of the expansion.
The alternative construction method for the expansion involves the placement of clean fill material within the confines of a structural steel bulkhead or cellular structure. The cost of the expansion utilizing this methodology was estimated at $300,000,000.00 (order of magnitude), resulting in a $900,000,000.00 cost savings to the port. Environmental impacts associated with this type of construction are much higher due to the loss of submerged lands and the overlying water column, however the port is proposing a significant mitigation project at McKay Bay to compensate for this loss. The proposed mitigation site has been impacted by historic ash disposal practices and would be remediated as part of the construction. Currently, the cost of mitigation for the fill/bulkhead option is estimated at $13,700,000.00. This cost, along with the cost of the expansion construction, is far less than the estimate to construct a pile supported structure. The decision to move forward with the fill/bulkhead option is the only reasonable choice for the port. A conceptual plan to place and secure the fill material in phases will distribute the construction costs equally over time and further reduce any financial burden to the port.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: As mitigation for the proposed impacts, Port Tampa Bay is proposing to construct a ± 20 acre mitigation site at the location known as Pond #5. Pond #5 is located directly north of the McKay Bay Mitigation Site (MBMS) and south of the City of Tampa McKay Bay Nature Park. This mitigation site will be a continuation of the initial mitigation site to the south and further enhance the impaired MacKay Bay waterbody. The removal of previously impacted sediments from within Pond #5 will result in additional improvements to the overall ecosystem.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has preliminarily determined the proposal may affect the West Indian Manatee; loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, and green sea turtles; and the smalltooth sawfish. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by 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 approximately 63 acres of unconsolidated bottom/water column utilized by various life stages of Penaeid shrimp complex/Red drum/ Reef fish/Stone crab/Spiny lobster/Migratory-pelagic fish/Snapper-Grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 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, Candice Wheelahan, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)760-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7064.
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.