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: City of Panama City Beach
Attention: Drew Whitman
17007 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, Florida 32413
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States in the Gulf of Mexico associated with installation of an offshore stormwater outfall. The project site is located at 16709 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Bay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Panama City, travel west on Panama City Beach Parkway and turn left on South Arnold Road. Proceed south until South Arnold Road splits at Front Beach Road. Go east on Front Beach Road. Proceed 1900 feet and the project area would be on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.217046°
Basic: Stormwater outfall
Overall: Improvements to the existing stormwater management system which would result in improvements to public health, safety, and the welfare of the users of the beachfront and in the Gulf of Mexico, near Lullwater Drive and Calypso Drive, in Panama City Beach.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: Currently, stormwater is collected from the Pier Park and surrounding commercial and residential areas and is directed through a series of treatment and natural ponds and features before it discharges in 2 open outfalls above the mean high water line (MHWL) on the beach near Lullwater Drive and Calypso Drives. The storm water flows from the discharge pipe, across the sand and into the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The impact area consists of a saltwater system in the Gulf of Mexico and freshwater areas within the Lullwater drainage system. The project area is bordered on the north by Highway 98 (Back Beach Road) and a residential development. To the east is a large commercial development and a venue park. To the immediate southwest and southeast are large condominium complexes with associated amenities, including parking and swimming pools. The excavation area within the Gulf of Mexico is comprised of beach sand and there is no submerged aquatic vegetation or hard bottom habitat within the proposed footprint. Vegetation within the freshwater areas consists of invasive species and nuisance vegetation.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to replace the existing 60” Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP) beach outfall which discharges surface water runoff from Lullwater Lake, across the beach and into the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed offshore deep-water outfall would be constructed at the same location as the existing beach outfall utilizing an existing fifty foot drainage easement that runs along the eastern most side of the property line of the Panama City Resort & Club condominium parking lot at 16709 Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach, Florida from Front Beach Road to the Gulf of Mexico.
A proposed 10’ x 24’ concrete vault would be set at the end of the existing 10’ x 9’ cast in place box culvert that is under Front Beach Road. It would be connected to 64 linear feet of double 84” RCP drainage culverts into two 12’ x 24’ concrete water quality vaults which would then be piped through 166 linear feet of double 84” RCP drainage culverts to a 10’ x 24’ concrete bulkhead vault that would be used to lay the offshore portion of the outfall pipeline. The pipeline would be laid approximately fifteen feet below the sea floor out of the bulkhead vault that would be installed 1,520 linear feet in front of the current seawall. The pipeline would then turn up on a 45 degree bend up from below the sea floor to approximately 2’ above the sea floor where the treated stormwater would be discharged into an approximately 35’ of water. An elliptical nozzle which would be made up a series of different gradations of armor stone would be place around the end of the pipeline to protect the end of the outfall from waves and scour around the pipeline. A No Anchoring buoy would be used to mark the end of the outfall pipeline location in the Gulf of Mexico.
The pipeline would be constructed in 300-foot sections for the length of the project depending on what method of the construction is selected by the contractor. The two different methods of construction proposed are either a temporary coffer cell or an open cut trench excavation for the installation of the pipeline. The open cut method would be conducted by barge mounted equipment. The barge needs a minimum of 10’ of water depth to be able to operate. In shallower waters, the work must be performed from a trestle with a temporary coffer cell. The average depth for the trench installation would be 22’ with a maximum of 28’ and the minimum of 20’.
The temporary coffer cell structure would be constructed from trench sheeting and would be used in the beach area seaward of the seawall and through the first 800 to 900 linear feet of the pipe trenching area. The use of a coffer cell in the section of the pipe constructed in the surf zone is necessary to prevent damage to the trench by daily wave action and by any severe wave action during storm events that might occur. It is estimated that there would be 4,345 cubic yards of excavated material in the area inside the coffer cell between the seawall and the highwater elevation +0.87’. The proposed temporary coffer cell structure would be installed in sections that would be approximately 30’ in width and 300’ long. The coffer cell would be removed and moved forward repeatedly as needed to the end of the proposed pipeline. Approximately 41,069 cubic yards of material would be removed from project area between the highwater level mark and the point where water depths reach approximately 10’. Approximately 40% of the excavated material would be lost in the excavation process because the material liquefies when deposited in a water column. The remaining material would be deposited on either side of the trench. Littoral drift and a dynamic wave action activity should move material and disperse it along the sea floor. The coffer cell system would be used out to roughly station 11+50 and the excavation method could change to an open cut method.
In the open cut section, approximately 29,565 cubic yards of material would be excavated. Forty percent of this material would be lost because of the drift and wave action as stated above. The open cut area would go from the end of the coffer cell at station 11+50 to the end of the nozzle. The nozzle area is proposed to be 615’ long by 70’ wide shaped like half of an ellipse with an impact area of 25,322 feet. The total volume of material to be excavated is approximately 51,979 cubic yards and 20,792 cubic yards would be lost during the dredging operation.
Once the temporary coffer cell has been excavated down to the proposed subgrade elevation, the pipe laying and backfill procedures would begin. Divers would be used to direct the placement of the pipe sections and then to inspect the joints where the pipes are connected prior to backfilling the pipeline and moving the construction operation seaward. Divers would also be used within the coffer cell sheet pile area and during the open trenching operations as the construction moves offshore.
The proposed backfill area is approximately 1,520’ long by 30’ wide for the length of the trench, and the fill area surrounding the nozzle is 4,383 square feet (sf). Geofabric would be installed on the bottom of the trench, then the pipe bedding stone material (#57 stone) would be installed to the bottom of the pipe elevation. The pipes would then be installed, and then the trench would be filled to the top of the pipe with bedding stone. Geofabric would be used to prevent surrounding sands from migrating into the bedding stone and filling the voids in the stone. It is estimated that 14,851 cubic yards of bedding stone would be placed in the trench. After the bedding stone has been properly wrapped in the geofabric, the first layer of the intermediate armor stone would be added to the trench in a layer approximately 1.42’ thick. This would require 2,749 cubic yards of material. A 5.32’ thick layer of larger armor stone, requiring 12,326 cubic yards of material, would be installed on top of the intermediate armor stone. The trench area would then be backfilled with native excavated material that was stockpiled on either side of the trench. The voids in the armor stone would be filled by some of the returning excavated material.
Based on information gathered from the soil borings along the beach, the soil material includes poor graded sands from medium to dense, white to a light tan to tan-brown fined grained and wet. There would be no offsite upland disposal site/area required. The beach excavated native sand material would be spread or wasted along the beach within a 100-feet on either side of the trench between the dune line and the low tide mark, and, in the Gulf Mexico, all excavated material would be side cast to either side of the trench or within 50 feet of the trench or the temporary trestle use area. The temporary piles of spoil would spread to the normal seafloor elevations levels as needed during construction to maintain natural sand migration to prevent sand from accumulating on one side of the construction site to the other and forming groins or sandbars along the beach.
In addition to the work in the Gulf of Mexico, there are two upstream improvements that are required to be completed along with this project to aid in the reduction in the flooding issues of Lullwater drainage basin. The first one is the cleaning of an existing canal between Seahorse Lake and Gulfview Lake, and the other is replacing a drainage culvert that is undersized between Gulfview Lake and Lullwater Lake. These improvements are needed to reduce upstream flooding and improve water for public benefit. There is an existing canal that runs between the Seahorse Lake and Gulfview Lake that was constructed when the subdivision was built in the 1970’s. The existing canal that ties Seahorse Lake to Gulfview Lake is approximately 260’ long and has become overgrown with invasive species which has caused this canal to silt up over the years. A survey has identified the normal water level along the existing canal bank and has determined that approximately 6,406 square feet (0.15 acre) of area requires maintenance excavation. It is estimated that there is 549 cubic yards of material to be removed from the canal to return the canal back to its original function as a drainage way between the two lakes. This impact would improve water circulation, water quality, and provide flood relief in the permitted Pier Park regional stormwater system that includes Seahorse Lake.
The other impact area is the existing 60” Corrugated Metal Pipe culvert under Lakeview Circle that connects Gulfview Lake to Lullwater Lake. This culvert is sized inadequately to prevent localized flooding around Gulfview lake and Seahorse Lake. When the subdivision was developed, there was a 10-foot-wide wooden bridge constructed between the two lakes across the 50-foot right-of-way instead of the existing 60” culvert that is there now. Replacement of the bridge with a culvert has caused a pinch point between the two lakes with has caused severe flooding upstream and overtopping of the roadway on numerous occasions. To regain the original functionality of the water connection between the two lakes the existing 60” culvert and the remains of the original wooden bridge would be removed and replaced with a 10’ x 6’ box culvert under the roadway.
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:
In order to meet the stated purpose, the project must be located in the current position. The project was designed to minimize permanent impacts while achieving the maximum improvement to water quality within the drainage basins. Existing stormwater treatment features would be utilized and improved to avoid impacts to new areas. Existing infrastructure would be upgraded under Lakeview Circle to improve hydrologic connectivity and water flow between Gulfview Lake and Lullwater Lake.
The project area across the dry sand beach and within the Gulf of Mexico would be limited to the 50-foot easement and impacts would be temporary. The beach profile and substrate within the Gulf would be restored to meet the contours and elevations of the adjacent areas. The trenched areas would be backfilled with native sand that would be spread over the bedding rock. During project development, the area was surveyed to confirm that there is no submerged aquatic vegetation or other fisheries habitat within the corridor and that excavated material would be compatible with the beach and adjacent areas within the Gulf.
Removal of the existing stormwater discharge areas on the beach would help to reduce erosion and decrease the frequency of nourishment that would be required in this location.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The basic project purpose of the Offshore Outfall is “improvements to the existing stormwater management system” which would result in improvements to public health, safety, and the welfare of the users of the beachfront and in the Gulf located in this specific stormwater drainage basin. This drainage basin is currently served by 2 beachfront outfalls that discharge stormwater runoff directly on and across the beachfront to the Gulf of Mexico.
The original stormwater collection system is inadequate in size to prevent flooding in the basin. This results in flooding in the lower areas of the watershed after significant rain events and some untreated stormwater being discharged directly onto the beachfront and then into the surf zone of the Gulf of Mexico. This is the area frequented by many beach users. Swimming advisories are sometimes posted for the 2 beachfront outfalls due to elevated bacteria counts after storm events. Construction of the proposed project would provide improved stormwater treatment, reduced nutrients in the effluent and reduced bacteria counts along the shoreline.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee, piping plover, red knot, nesting and swimming sea turtles including loggerhead, green, Kemps ridley, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles or its designated critical habitat. The Corps would request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Gulf sturgeon or its designated critical habitat. The Corps would request initiation of formal consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 5.33 acres of shallow estuarine habitat utilized by various life stages of coastal pelagic species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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: Based on the Florida State Plane coordinates provided by the applicant, the waterward edge of the proposed structure is 11.5 miles away from the nearest Federal channel.
SECTION 408: The applicant would 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. The project area crosses the Panama City Beach Nourishment project area.
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 Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard (Blvd.), Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407 within 30 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application would 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, Tracey L. Wheeler, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Blvd., Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407; by electronic mail at email@example.com; or, by telephone at (850)287-0138.
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 would have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit would be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision would 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 would 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 would 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.
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.