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: Palm Beach County Department of Airports
846 Palm Beach International Airport
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the C-51 Canal. The project site is located at 3200 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, Section 31 & 32, Township 43 South, Range 43 East, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Approximately 1.7 miles west of the Belvedere Road/I-95 interchange on the southern side of the airport.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Improve airport infrastructure and reduce potential wildlife hazards.
Overall: Improve the infrastructure and drainage at the Palm Beach International Airports Northeast Airfield in Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The subject site is an existing airport stormwater system. The project area includes 3 open water tributaries used to convey stormwater. The tributaries are partially vegetated with steep slopes with areas of cement rip-rap; two and a half to three feet of water. Although patchy areas of submergent and emergent aquatic vegetation were present [primarily comprising muskgrass (Chara sp.), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), yellow pond-lily (Nuphar advena) and torpedograss (Panicum repens)], the ditch is located within historic non-hydric conditions. The area adjacent to the ditch is considered upland (FLUCCS 740), and is dominated by bare soil, bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) and shrubby false buttonweed (Spermacoce verticillata).The existing area surrounding the project area consists of an airport.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 2,200 linear feet of tributaries, excavate 425 linear feet of tributaries, and install 3,100 linear feet of concrete pipes and eight box culverts. The tributaries to be filled and excavated are open water ditches/canals used to convey stormwater. The total open water fill area for all three ditches is 2.10 acres
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:
“Complete avoidance is not practicable, as this project was selected for development as part of the overall PBC airfield pavement rehabilitation initiative started in 2010, and part of the overall airport improvements to improve drainage systems while simultaneously eliminating potential hazardous wildlife attractants (e.g. drainage systems, open water). The minimization effort incorporated into this project include alignment of the site development plan to avoid impacting additional surface waters to the east, placement of site access and drainage system design to maintain the hydrologic continuity of the site and ensure stormwater will be treated to meet state water quality standards prior to discharge. A six to 12 inch gap between the top of the pipe to the water table (7’ NGVD control elevation) will provided for the required aeration. Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be used, including floating turbidity barriers and staked silt fence protection around construction. Impacts have been reduced to the maximum amount possible but still meet the project requirements.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“The existing drainage ditches are partially vegetated surface waters constructed in upland fill approximately 27 years ago, and are part of a previously permitted by SFWMD as a stormwater management system.”
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 project site is located within the core foraging area of a wood stork colony, the consultation area for the Florida scrub jay, and may contain suitable habitat for the Eastern indigo snake. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake. The Corps has received programmatic concurrence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the determination from the Eastern indigo snake pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species, including the wood stork and scrub jay, or designated critical habitat.
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 2.10 acres of freshwater tributaries. 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. 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 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, Krista Sabin, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Krista.D.Sabin@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561)472-3506.
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.