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: Gulf Power Company
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Alligator Bayou and North Bay. The project site is located in Section 36, Township 2 South, Range 15 West, at 4300 County Road 2300, Southport, Bay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Panama City, take Highway 77 north through Southport to County Road 2300. Turn left on County Road 2300 and follow it for approximately 5.3 miles until the dead end at Plant Smith.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Power generation.
Overall: Improvements to an existing power generation facility in central Bay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a previously silvicultured, freshwater pine wetland system. The onsite vegetation consists of slash pine (Pinus elliottii), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), water oak (Quercus nigra), titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), and myrtle leaf holly (Ilex myrtifolia). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of an existing and operational power generation facility, undeveloped lands to the north and west, and North Bay to the south.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge of approximately 4,571 cubic yards of fill over 2.04 acres of wetlands for the construction of an injection well pump station and treatment system for the disposal of cooling tower blowdown. The project will also result in secondary impacts to 1.13 acres of wetlands. This project replaces an existing temporary pump station and stops the discharge of cooling water in to North Bay.
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 project minimizes and avoids wetlands impacts to the maximum extent and meets project requirements in relation to existing plant equipment and injection wells. Shared equipment between the existing cooling tower and the injections wells will reduce the overall footprint of the site and reduce square footage impacts by usage of shared fencing, equipment, gravel pad, and access drives. This area will reduce the construction impacts of any new right-of-way clearing and limit installation of new access drives that would be required for maintenance of the proposed pump station. Relocation of the proposed pump station from the current location of the temporary pump station would increase the footprint of the stormwater management system by requiring additional stormwater treatment under Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code (F .). The proposed pump station has been designed to be constructed in phases to minimize additional impacts for equipment and supply staging areas. The proposed pump station area has also been designed adjacent to the existing plant pad to avoid and minimize laydown yard impacts and access drive impacts and to utilize the existing stormwater management system to minimize wetland impacts required for stormwater treatment. The upland area at the temporary pump station is also utilized to minimize new impacts to wetlands. The proposed pump station utilizes 6.6 acres of uplands to minimize wetland impacts.
In choosing the location for the Plant Smith injection well waste water treatment pump station, Gulf Power considered the area to be disturbed next to the injection well for avoidance and minimization. This area that would be disturbed for construction of new structures and required stormwater management facilities utilizes uplands to the maximum extent. By selecting the site to the east of the existing Unit 3 natural gas fired combined cycle plant, cooling tower and south of the existing injection wells, we were able to reduce new disturbance due to access roads and electrical buildings, minimize the area disturbed for the new fenced area of the pump station, and minimized wetland impact of the stormwater facilities. This was completed by locating the pond east of the new pump station and expanding an existing stormwater pond into an upland area. The existing temporary injection well waste water treatment pump station will be removed and Gulf Power will utilize the upland at this site for part of the proposed new waste water treatment pump station.
The original design has been minimized to reduce wetland impacts to a large cypress wetland area south of the exiting temporary pump station yard. Impervious parking and access drives have been reduced in size or eliminated to reduce the required stormwater system size. Pump station gravel pad sizes were reduced, and some equipment has been relocated to upland areas. This enabled Gulf Power to reduce wetland impacts from 6.81 to 3.17 acres (1.13 acres of secondary impacts and 2.04 acres of direct impacts). Utilizing existing cleared uplands as a laydown area enables Gulf Power to also avoid any new wetland impact areas outside of current construction limits.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Gulf Power is proposing 1.36 Wet Prairie/Hydric Pine Flatwoods mitigation credits to offset wetland impacts. Credits will be purchased from Breakfast Point Mitigation Bank, Panama City Beach, FL.
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.
Option A: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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. 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, Florida 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, Michael Ornella, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida; by electronic mail at Michael.Ornella@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1904; or, by telephone at (904)232-1498.
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.