US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

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SAJ-2019-02605 (SP-BJC)

Published Oct. 4, 2019
Expiration date: 10/19/2019

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:  Orlando Utilities Commission
                       Attn: Mr. Chris Browder
                       6003 Pershing Avenue
                       Orlando, Florida 32822

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Hydrologic Unit Code 0308010110 (Econolockhatchee River) The project site is located within the existing transmission line corridor in Sections 2, 3, 10, 11, 22, 26, 27, 34, and 35, Townships 22 and 23 South, Range 30 East, Orange County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 head west on FL-528 31 miles. Take exit 11 for FL-436 N/Semoran Boulevard for 3 miles. Turn right onto Pershing Avenue and travel 0.4 miles and the Pershing Substation is located to the north.

APPROXIMATE COORDINATES: Start   Latitude: 28.502373°, Longitude: -81.303316°
                                                       End     Latitude: 28.552937°, Longitude: -81.298666°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Electric utility infrastructure upgrade and maintenance

Overall: Rebuild transmission line structures and realign the corridor to remove transmission lines from a residential neighborhood.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Project currently supports seven land use types which have been identified during the field reconnaissance performed by Black & Veatch. The Florida Land Use, Cover Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCFCS, FDOT, January 1999) was utilized to classify the land use types on the Project site. The following provides a brief description of each land use type/vegetative community identified on the site by Black & Veatch:

Uplands

182 - Golf Courses
Small areas of the Ventura Country Club golf course are located within the Project corridor. These areas include various ornamental species associated with the golf course.

832 - Electrical Power Transmission Lines
The Project includes existing OUC right-of-way with an existing transmission line originating from the Pershing substation and ending at the Azalea substation. This transmission line corridor is void of forested canopy and exhibits herbaceous groundcover. The corridor exhibits a width of approximately 75-feet. The Electrical Power Transmission Lines (832) FLUCFCS category most appropriately describes this land use type and the vegetation observed within this land use includes scrub oak (Quercus inopina), dwarf palm (Sabal minor), crested saltbush (Atriplex pentandra), lantana (Lantana strigocamara), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), rusty staggerbush (Lyonia ferruginea), rattlebox (Sesbania punicea), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), greenbrier (Smilax spp.), bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), Carolina redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana), shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites), purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), caesarweed (Urena lobata), vaseygrass (Paspalum urvillei), cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), guineagrass (Megathyrsus maximus), southern crabgrass (Digitaria ciliaris), bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and wiregrass (Aristida stricta). The edges of the existing powerline easement exhibited earpod tree (Enterolobium contortisiliquum), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera), camphortree (Cinnamomum camphora), water oak (Quercus nigra), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), chinaberrytree (Melia azedarach), common banana (Musa x paradisiaca), red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), winged sumac (Rhus copallinum), and muscadine grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia).

Wetlands & Surface Waters

510 - Streams and Waterways
The Project corridor contains a stormwater drainage canal which is located in two (2) separate locations. This canal conveys hydrologic drainage from the surrounding residential and institutional land uses.

533 – Reservoirs less than 10 acres (4 hectares) which are dominant features
The Project corridor contains man-made surface water storm drainage features which are associated with the Ventura Country Club golf course abutting the west edge of the north-south portion of the project corridor.

621 - Cypress
Forested wetlands on the southern portion of this transmission line route are comprised of a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) dominated system. Vegetation observed within this land use type includes bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), red maple (Acer rubrum), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), water oak (Quercus nigra), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), Peruvian primerosewillow (Ludwigia peruviana), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), swamp fern (Telmatoblechnum serrulatum), cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Carolina redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana), spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), muscadine grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia), elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera).

630 - Wetland Forested Mixed
There are three (3) separate forested wetlands areas located in the north and south ends of the Project which contain a mix of forested species. In the southern end of the Project one (1) forested wetland area has been previously cleared for transmission lines running east-west and the vegetation has come back as primarily juvenile red maple (Acer rubrum) with an understory of swamp fern (Telmatoblechnum serrulatum) and cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum). The north end of the Project contains two (2) separate areas of mixed forested wetland and these areas are comprised of red maple (Acer rubrum), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus hemisphaerica), Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Peruvian primerosewillow (Ludwigia peruviana), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), swamp fern (Telmatoblechnum serrulatum), cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), Carolina redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana), muscadine grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia) and air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera).

640 - Vegetated Non-Forested Wetlands
Throughout the north-south portion of the Project corridor there is an upland fill access road which is believed to have been created in the 1960s. The center fill road was likely created by excavating on either side to build up the material for the road. As a result, the depressional areas on either side of the fill access road exhibit wetland characteristics, especially the portions on the southeastern portion of the project on the east side of the access road. These areas are periodically maintained as part of the existing transmission line easement and exhibit vegetation which appears to be managed throughout the year. Vegetation observed within this land use type includes southern cattail (Typha domingensis), soft rush (Juncus effusus), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), sedges (Carex spp.), cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), Peruvian primerosewillow (Ludwigia peruviana), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), centella (Centella asiatica), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), blackberry (Rubus pensylvanicus), red ludwigia (Ludwigia spp.), pickerelweed (Pontedaria cordata), crested saltbush (Atriplex pentandra), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), common duckweed (Lemna minor), bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus), lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana), and wild taro (Colocasia esculenta).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant requests authorization to fill 3.4 acres of waters of the United States for the repair and realignment of a high voltage transmission line.

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 has identified a green field corridor which aligns the existing transmission line corridor with the existing east-west section connecting to the Pershing substation. In determining the best connection, care was given to sensitive environmental resources including wetlands and threatened and endangered species. The most practicable route was chosen to remove the transmission line corridor out of Ventura Country club and realign the corridor to eliminate high voltage power lines through the Ventura Country Club and create a more direct route of the transmission line corridor to the Pershing substation. The applicant has avoided wetland resources to the greatest extent practicable through design strategies including minimizing the access road footprint to a single traversable road and keeping the remaining herbaceous wetland resources on either side of the access road. Additionally, on the section of the existing transmission corridor, structure pads were kept in the same place to minimize impacts to herbaceous ditch/swale wetlands and maintain a similar footprint to what currently exists. As such, the applicant has avoided and minimized impacts to wetland resources to the greatest extent practicable while meeting the need to rebuild the deteriorating transmission line and improve the overall reliability of the OUC electrical grid for the area.”

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

“The applicant proposes to mitigate impacts to jurisdictional resources through the purchase of mitigation credits from TM Econ Mitigation Bank, which is located within the Econlockhatchee Nested drainage basin. TM Econ is permitted for federal credits using WRAP scoring and as such, Black & Veatch has prepared a WRAP summary of the impacts located in Attachment A. The applicant is proposing direct impacts to wetland resources which total 3.40 acres (2.9 acres forested and 0.50 acres herbaceous) and secondary impacts to wetland resources which total 2.68 acres (1.98 acres forested and 0.70 acres herbaceous). The total WRAP functional loss of impacts is 2.12 units. The applicant proposes to purchase 2.12 dual (state/federal) credits from the TM Econ Mitigation Bank and a reservation letter can be provided concluding the approval of the mitigation plan.”

CULTURAL RESOURCES:

The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area, which is defined by the project boundaries. 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 those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.

ENDANGERED SPECIES:

Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork and its designated critical habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) North Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (September 2008). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 2,500 feet from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH) >C (Impacts to SFH > 0.5 acres) >D (Project impacts to SFH are within the Core Foraging Area of a colony site, or wood storks have been documented foraging on site) >E (Project provides SFH compensation within the Service Area of a Service approved wetland mitigation bank or wood stork conservation bank preferably within the CFA, or consists of SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation in a project phased approach that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH, is contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines For The Wood Stork In The Southeast Region and in accordance with the CWA section 404(b)(1) guidelines = “not likely to adversely affect” for wood storks. The Corps has FWS concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.

Eastern Indigo Snake: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based upon review of the Corps and Service’s Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 13, 2013), the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) >B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo snake during site preparation and protection construction.) >C (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat) >E (permit will be conditioned such that gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, and snake refugia will be inspected before site manipulation of a particular area, and if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work) = NLAA. No further consultation was 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 proposal would impact approximately 3.4 acres of freshwater wetlands which ultimately discharges to the Econolockhatchee River and East Lake Tohopekaliga. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the downstream waters. 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 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, 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, Brandon J. Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at brandon.j.conroy@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (321) 504-3803; or, by telephone at (504) 321-3771 x11.

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 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.