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: South Florida Water Management District
c/o Ms. Jennifer Smith
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with L-6 Canal and adjacent wetlands. The project is located in the L-6 Canal and right-of-way, adjacent to and upstream of the S-7 pump station, about 0.14 miles (730 feet) northeast/upstream of the confluence with the North New River (NNR) Canal and about 2.75 miles (14,514 feet) southwest/downstream of the existing structure G-336G, in Section 22, Township 47 South, Range 38 East, Terrytown, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the East coast of Florida, take Southern Boulevard (State Road 80/U.S. 98) west. Turn left onto Florida 15 road south in Belle Glade. Continue south on Florida 15 as it turns into S Main Street. Follow S Main Street to the west as it turns into SR 80. Take a left onto U.S. 27 in South Bay. The proposed project is located east of US 27 in rural southwest Palm Beach County in the L-6 Canal, adjacent to and upstream of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) S-7 pump station.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.337825°
PROJECT PURPOSE: The applicant has provided the following purpose of the proposed project. South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) states that the purpose of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is to improve the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water flows to the Northern Estuaries, central Everglades (WCA 3), Everglades National Park and Florida Bay while increasing water supply for municipal, industrial and agricultural users. CEPP is a sub-component of the larger Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), and will be implemented in four phases, CEPP North Phase (CEPP North) being one of the phases. The proposed project to construct the S-620 gated culvert is the first feature of CEPP North. The purpose of the S-620 project is to remove the existing plug at the western terminus of the L-6 Canal and replace it with an operable gated culvert, S-620. When conditions are appropriate and all CEPP North project features are completed, the S-620 gated culvert will allow the release of up to 500 cfs from the L-6 Canal into the L-5 Remnant Canal. The water released will be further conveyed west for delivery into the northwest corner of Water Conservation Area - 3A.
In conjunction with other CEPP North features, the flows provided by the S-620 gated culvert project are needed to achieve the regional downstream restoration and wetland habitat enhancement goals of improving the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water flows to the Northern Estuaries, central Everglades (Water Conservation Area - 3), Everglades National Park and Florida Bay while increasing water supply for municipal, industrial and agricultural users.
Basic: The basic project purpose is water conveyance.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide freshwater inflow facilities for receipt of water from other CEPP phases, conveyance improvements, and increased landscape connectivity to restore northern Water Conservation Area 3A (WCA-3A).
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of freshwater, non-forested habitats. Per the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), project wetlands are defined as ‘Glades Marsh’. This primarily herbaceous wetland type is found in South Florida, especially in the Everglades basin, and occurs in broad shallow channels or depressions over a substrate of peat or marl that directly overlies limestone. Common wetland vegetation found within the project area includes sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), cattail (Typha latifolia), Gulf Coast spikerush (Eleocharis cellulosa), arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia), and pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of adjacent freshwater herbaceous wetlands to the north, east and south and to the west if the North New River canal, U.S. 27, Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 3/4 and Water Conservation Area 3A.
PROPOSED WORK: CEPP North is a federally authorized project. The SFWMD (non-federal local sponsor) is the lead agency to design and construct the S-620 gated culvert and pursuant to the Regulatory Guidance Letter (RGL) 88-09, a permit is required. The construction of the project will include the removal of a plug at the western terminus of the L-6 Canal and replace it with an operable gated culvert (500 cfs) and tie-back levee and in conjunction with L-6 Canal improvement will allow L-6 conveyance to the west for restoration flows to the NW corner of WCA-3A.
The applicant seeks authorization to install the S-620 gated culvert, tie-back levee, L-6 Canal improvements, permanent self-contained dredge material storage area and temporary dewatering area. The proposal will directly impact 3.41 acres and temporary impact 1.26 acres of herbaceous freshwater wetlands and directly impact 2.41 acres of the L-6 canal. The work includes the dredging of 2.02 acres (15,365 cubic yards) and filling of 0.39 acres (3,636 cubic yards) of the L-6 Canal and dredging of 0.24 acres (855 cubic yards) and filling of 3.15 acres (16,606 cubic yards) of adjacent wetlands. The work will also include the construction of a 1.26-acre temporary project dewatering area. To construct the dewatering area, 0.26 acres (1,000 cubic yards) of wetlands are proposed to be filled for a temporary containment berm.
The dredging is proposed to be accomplished by hydraulic dredging for the work proposed in the L-6 Canal and mechanical excavation in the other project areas. Final means and methods of project construction will be determined by the selected contractor. Dredge material will be stockpiled in the permanent self-contained dredge material storage area.
The individual project components are described as follows:
S-620 Gated Culvert - The S-620 structure is a one-direction, gated two-barrel box reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) culvert structure that includes permanent sheet pile wingwalls and riprap. The design flow of the structure is 500 cfs with two 12ft by 10ft vertical slide gates to control outflow from the L-6 Canal to the L-5 Canal. It will be used to regulate water levels in the L-6 canal and to pass flow to the downstream North New River Canal.
Tie-back levee - The tie-back levee will connect the North New River Canal levee to the southern end of the proposed S-620 structure. The tie-back levee will be constructed on the east bank of the L-6 canal at the approximate location of the historical levee that was originally constructed by the USACE in the 1950s and later degraded. A 70-foot-wide area between the proposed tie-back levee and the L-6 canal will be raised to above the canal water level and graded for drainage.
L-6 Canal Improvements - The L-6 canal will be widened and deepened at the S-620 structure and upstream and downstream of the structure to accommodate the 500 cfs capacity. Work will extend approximately 400 feet upstream of the structure and 675 feet downstream of the structure to the intersection with the North New River Canal. The canal improvements will require removal of the limestone and sandy limestone that makes up the bottom of the canal and removal of any material overlying the limestone.
Plug Removal - An existing earthen plug at the western terminus of the L-6 canal will be removed. The new S-620 structure will serve the same function as the existing plug except in instances when CEPP flows to the L-5 are desired.
All work associated with the S-620 gated culvert project is within the existing L-6 Canal right-of-way.
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 proposed project is the first feature of a wetland habitat enhancement project intended to restore regional wetland functions. District staff will also provide listed species training for all construction contractors. In addition, the selected contractor will implement best management practices (BMP's) and will develop a site-specific Turbidity Control & Monitoring Plan (TC&MP) and a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).
Different project scenarios were comprehensively screened and evaluated as part of the Central Everglades Planning Project Final Integrated Project Implementation Report (PIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), 2014. This process resulted in the current S-620 gated culvert project location.
The purpose of the S-620 gated culvert is to replace an existing plug and convey water through existing regional distribution canals for delivery to the northwest corner of WCA-3A. Therefore, there is no practicable alternative upland location for this gated culvert structure and associated features.
Minimization measures have been implemented during the project design and review process. Prior iterations of the S-620 gated culvert construction plans resulted in greater impacts to both local canal waters and wetland habitats. While both dewatering and decanting of excavated canal materials are still required as part of project construction, the permanent wetland impacts associated with these activities have been reduced from 6.97 acres to 3.41 acres. Construction within the North New River Canal has also been eliminated in the current project design.
In addition, BMP’s will be placed around the construction site to minimize interaction with surrounding areas. Silt fence will be placed at the project’s boundaries to prevent encroachment into adjacent habitat. Turbidity barriers will be placed in canal waters to isolate work areas and prevent turbidity from entering adjacent surface waters.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
To offset the unavoidable wetland impacts to 3.41 acres of jurisdictional wetlands within the footprint of the S-620 site, the project will improve the functionality of downstream wetlands within Water Catchment Area 3A. The Corps is still working with the applicant to ensure the final mitigation satisfies the preference hierarchy identified in 33 CFR Part 332.3 (b)(1).
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of recorded historic resources within or adjacent to the permit area and is evaluating the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This public notice serves to inform the public of the proposed undertaking and invites comments including those from local, State, and Federal government Agencies with respect to historic resources. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts may be subject to additional coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and other interested parties, as applicable.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) or its designated critical habitat, Florida Bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), Florida Panther (Puma concolor corvi), Audubon crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps had concluded Consultation 04EF2000-2021-I-0690 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 3, 2021, 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. However, the site consists of the L-6 canal which is a freshwater system and does not support habitat for marine fisheries pursuant to NMFS purview.
SECTION 408: The applicant will require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would alter, occupy, or use a Corps Civil Works project.
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.
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, Carolyn Farmer, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (561)626-6971; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3527.
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.
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.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: Water Quality Certification is required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The project is being reviewed under FDEP Application No. 0419768-001.
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.