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: Florida Power & Light Company
Attn: Mr. James Fowler
11999 Pate Street
Pensacola, Florida 32514
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Governors Bayou and the Gulf Clean Energy Center (GCEC) discharge canal. The project site is located at the GCEC facility at 11999 Pate Street, Sections 25 and 30, Township 1 North, Range 30 West, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-10 West, exit at Exit 13 (FL-291, Davis Highway). Take FL-291 North. After about a quarter mile, take a left onto E. Olive Road (FL-290). In about one mile, take a right onto Cody Lane. Cody Lane turns into Jernigan Road. Stay on Jernigan Road for about one mile. Turn left on US-90 ALT W 9 Mile Road. After about a half mile turn right onto Guidy Lane. Guidy Lane turns left and becomes E. 10 Mile Road. After about a quarter mile on E. 10 Mile Road, take a right onto Pate Street. The GCEC (project site) is about 1.3 miles down Pate Street.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.565267°
Basic: The basic project purpose is environmental and wildlife protection measures
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide environmental and wildlife protection measures at the GCEC facility.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The overall project area consists of the GCEC facility and associated infrastructure. The proposed work would occur within Governors Bayou and the GCEC facility discharge canal.
Governors Bayou: Governors Bayou is a tidally-influenced waterway. The river bottom where work would occur contains no to minimal benthic algal coverage. The river bank is steeply sloped, containing upland fill soils and primarily upland grasses with some nuisance/exotic herbaceous wetland vegetation downslope near the water’s edge.
GCEC Facility Discharge Canal: The GCEC facility discharge canal is a manmade artificial canal and is part of the plant’s industrial wastewater system and serves as the main plant discharge. The artificial canal is not navigable. Water management structures downstream prevent it from being tidally influenced. The canal does not flow into the Conecuh River; it is engineered to flow under the Conecuh River and into the Escambia River approximately one-mile from the canal. The canal bottom along the proposed sheet pile wall replacement area and concrete wall installation area is void of benthic resources (bare substrate). The west bank of the canal at the proposed new sheet pile installation site is gently sloped and capped in concrete with some gravel/rip-rap substrate and minimal vegetation coverage on the bank. The west bank of the canal at the proposed retaining wall site also contains gravel/rip-rap substrate with minimal vegetation coverage. The east bank of the canal within the project site is gently sloped and contains a gravel/rip-rap substrate with minimal vegetation coverage on the bank.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to conduct activities within waters of the United States associated with the installation of new permanent floating hard boom barriers at three (3) separate work areas, identified as Work Area 2, Work Area 4, and Work Area 5, within the GCEC facility. All work would be completed from uplands and shallow draft barges. More specifically, the proposed work involves the following activities:
Work Area 2 - The following activities would occur within Governors Bayou: Installation of one section of steel sheet piles, to be installed perpendicular to the west river bank, measuring 32 linear feet by 2 feet wide (64 square feet/0.001 acre), of which 22 feet 7 inches (45 square feet/0.001 acre) would occur below the Mean High Water Line (MHWL); and the installation of one section of steel sheet piles, to be installed perpendicular to the west river bank, measuring 45 linear feet by 2 feet wide (90 square feet/0.002 acre), of which 32 linear feet 1 inch (64 square feet/0.001 acre) of the steel sheet piles would occur below the MHWL. The steel sheet piles would be installed using the vibratory method. No discharges of dredged or fill material are proposed. The steel sheet pile sections would be installed on each side of an existing facility discharge point, and the new hard boom would attach to the channelward ends and span the discharge feature and include a tide riser system.
Work Area 4 - The following activities would occur within the GCEC discharge canal: Installation of a section of replacement steel sheet pile wall measuring 316 feet 7 inches to extend a maximum of 1 foot waterward of the existing sheet pile wall and the discharge of 229 cubic yards of backfill within a 317 square foot (0.007 acre) area between the existing and new sheet pile walls on the east bank of the GCEC discharge canal; the installation of a section of new concrete wall measuring 9 linear feet by 2 feet wide (18 square feet/0.0001 acres) beneath an existing conduit bridge on the east bank of the discharge canal; and the installation of a section of new steel sheet pile wall measuring 11 linear feet by 2 feet wide (22 square feet/0.001 acre) with no backfill on the west bank of the discharge canal. The steel sheet pile sections would be installed using the vibratory method. The concrete wall would be installed using sheet pile cofferdam and forms. The proposed floating boom would span between the new sheet pile wall on the west bank and the replacement sheet pile wall on the east bank.
Work Area 5 - The following activities would occur within the GCEC discharge canal: The installation of 33 linear feet by 2 feet wide (66 square feet/0.002 acre) of new steel sheet piles to be installed perpendicular to the east bank of the discharge canal. The sheet piles would be installed via vibratory method. Additionally, the installation of a new concrete retaining wall measuring 60 feet 8 inches by 15 feet (910 square feet/0.02 acre) of which 22 linear feet (330 square feet/0.008 acre) would be installed below the MHWL in the GCEC discharge canal. The hard boom would be attached to the channelward extent of the perpendicular steel sheet pile on the east side of the discharge canal and would span the discharge canal and attach to the retailing wall on the west side of the discharge canal.
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 was designed to minimize permanent filling impacts below the MHWL to the greatest extent possible. Steel sheet pile was incorporated into the design where possible, instead of concrete walls which have a larger fill footprint. All steel sheet piles would be installed via vibratory methods to limit noise impacts on wildlife and reduce potential for water quality impacts (compared to poured concrete). Best Management Practices, such as turbidity barriers and erosion controls would be utilized. All in-water construction activities would take place between June and September, when Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) are less likely to utilize the project area. Additionally, the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011 and Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions, revision date 2006, would be adhered to.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
No compensatory mitigation is proposed because the waters in the three (3) work areas contain no submerged aquatic vegetation, the banks have limited wetland vegetation, and the UMAM results are less than 0.01 units of impact.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The following species and/or their designated critical habitats are identified as having the potential to be affected by the proposed project: West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinate), Swimming Sea Turtles [Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Sea Turtle, Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)], Gulf Sturgeon, Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa), Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and Mussels [(Fuzzy Pigtoe (Pleurobema strodeanum), Choctaw Bean (Villosa choctawensis), Narrow Pigtoe (Fusconaia escambia), Southern Sandshell (Hamiota australis), Tapered Pigtoe (Fusconaia burkei), Round Ebonyshell (Reginaia rotulata), Southern Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus jonesi)].
Endangered Species Evaluations –
West Indian Manatee: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee. The Corps evaluated potential effects to the West Indian manatee using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C-G-N-O-P = may affect, not likely to adversely affect, and no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary based on the programmatic concurrence.
Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork. The Corps evaluated potential effects to the Wood Stork using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008. Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C = not likely to adversely affect, and no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary based on the programmatic concurrence.
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 evaluated potential effects to the Eastern Indigo Snake using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Determination Key 2013. Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C = not likely to adversely affect, and no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary based on the programmatic concurrence.
Smalltooth Sawfish, Swimming Sea Turtles, and the Gulf Sturgeon and it’s critical habitat: The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Smalltooth Sawfish, Swimming Sea Turtles, and Gulf Sturgeon and it’s critical habitat. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Piping Plover, Red Knot, and Mussels: The Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect on the Piping Plover, Red Knot, and Mussels, as habitat for these species is not present within the ESA Action area.
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 initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in Governors Bayou and the GCEC facility discharge canal. 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.
Navigation: The proposed project would not occur within a waterway which is part of a Corps Civil Works project. The nearest Operations and Maintenance facility is identified as the Escambia and Conecuh Rivers. Governors Bayou is a tributary of the Escambia and Conecuh Rivers facility, and the proposed activity within Governors Bayou is approximately 3,400 feet (0.65 mile) from the waterward edge of the channel, and the GCEC facility discharge canal is a manmade feature and does not directly connect to the Escambia and Conecuh Rivers. Based on this information, the proposed project would not affect navigation.
SECTION 408: The applicant will not require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would not 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 or at Tarrie.L.Ostrofsky@usace.army.mil within 21 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, Tarrie Ostrofsky, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207; by electronic mail at Tarrie.L.Ostrofsky@usace.army.mil; or by telephone at (904) 232-1237.
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.
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 may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
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.