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: Broward County BOCC
1850 Eller Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project is located at Port Everglades (Port) in Lake Mabel and the Stranahan River, waters of the U.S., at 1850 Eller Drive, Port Everglades (Section 14, Township 50 South, Range 42 East), in Broward County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Exit I-95 in Broward County at I-595 and go east. At its terminus, I-595 becomes Eller Drive which leads to the Port.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 26.09843°
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve shoreline stabilization at Port Everglades.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project is located at Port Everglades, an active deep-water port located in Broward County. The shoreline is armored and depths in the project area range from -2.6 mean low water along the North Bulkhead at the Entrance Channel (NBEC) to a design depth of -51 feet mean low water along Berth 3. Benthic and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) surveys were completed
in September 2022. Based on these surveys, there is one 3.28 foot by 2.3 foot patch of Halophila decipiens, with 10-15% coverage, located adjacent to the Berth 1D. An additional small patch of H. decipiens, with 10-15% coverage, is located within 50 feet from the existing bulkhead along the western portion of the NBEC. A coral survey was performed in November and December 2021 and identified 389 corals colonies ≥ 5 cm in size with 215 of the colonies being greater than 10 cm in size on the seawall and aprons along the berthing bulkheads. Nine species were observed (Phyllangia americana, Madracis pharensis, Oculina spp., Cladocora arbuscula, Madracis decactis, Siderastrea sidereal, Tubastraea coccinea, Solenastrea bournoni, Siderastrea radians) none of which were listed threatened or endangered species.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to replace bulkheads at Berths 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, and Berths 1, 2, and 3 and the North Bulkhead at the Entrance Channel consisting of the following activities:
1) Berths 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, and Berths 1, 2, and 3:
a) Installation of 2,243 linear feet of steel sheet pipe seawall, placed a maximum of 5.5 feet waterward of the existing seawall wetface with a maximum 6.25-foot-wide concrete cap;
b) Replacement of 30 cubic yards of existing riprap at the northern end of Berth 1D;
c) Removal of the existing toe wall along Berth 3;
d) Installation of three temporary loading structures to maintain operations during construction consisting of 900 square feet of steel plates supported by fourteen 24-inch steel pipe piles; and
e) Replacement of 12 outfall pipes to include manatee exclusion grates.
2) North Bulkhead at the Entrance Channel:
a) Installation of 1,220 linear feet of steel sheet pile seawall, placed 3 feet waterward of the existing seawall wetface, with a 3-foot-wide concrete cap;
b) Placement of 45,605 square feet (1,565 cy) of an articulated concrete mattress; and
c Replacement of 4 outfall pipes to include manatee exclusion grates.
The proposed project will impact 66.5 square feet of seagrass (Halophila decipiens) due to the placement of the concrete mattress. The project will also impact 389 coral colonies located on the seawall and aprons along the berthing bulkheads. The colonies are dominated by four species (Madracis pharensis, Phyllangia americana, Cladocora arbuscula, and Oculina spp.
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:
Water quality and quantity impacts will be avoided and minimized through the usage of Best Management Practices and turbidity controls. Due to high traffic and water velocities within the project vicinity, it is anticipated that turbidity barriers will not be effective at maintaining water quality and may pose a risk to commercial and recreational vessel safety. Alternative turbidity control measures being purposed include turbidity monitoring conducted with the use of a mixing zone not greater than 150 meters in order to maintain water quality during construction.
To minimize impacts to submerged vegetation, the concrete mattress has been minimized to the greatest extent possible without jeopardizing its functional integrity. The original design submitted with the application package included 378.3 square feet of impacts to an area that is characterized largely by macro algae with approximately 10-15% coverage of Halophila decipiens. Through avoidance and minimization efforts, the area of impact was reduced to 163 square feet by decreasing the northern and western boundaries of the western mattress. Through coordination with the mattress manufacturer since revisions were made, the southwest corner of the mattress has been rounded, the western boundary has been reduced, and the footprint has been further minimized to reduce direct SAV impacts to 66.5 square feet, an 82.4% reduction from the original footprint. The concrete mattress limits are unable to be reduced any more due to the susceptibility of the corner of the proposed bulkhead to scour, the inability to bury the toe of the mattress, and maintaining the uniform stability of the mattress. Additionally, to minimize impacts to corals, the applicant has submitted a Coral Relocation Plan developed using protocols and guidance described both in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Coral and Octocoral Mitigation Relocation Recommendations document (dated November 17, 2021).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The concrete mattress layout has been minimized to the maximum extent practicable without jeopardizing functional integrity. The original layout submitted with the application package included 378.3 square feet of impacts to an area of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV). The layout has been minimized to reduce direct SAV impacts to 66.5 square feet: an 82.4% reduction from the original impacts. Unfortunately, further minimization of the mattress layout would adversely affect susceptibility of the corner of the proposed bulkhead to scour, the inability to bury the toe of the mattress, and maintaining the uniform stability of the mattress. The cost of redesigning the bulkhead to avoid the 378.3 square feet of impacts or providing seagrass mitigation for the unavoidable impacts would place an unreasonable burden upon Broward County for minimal impacts to sparsely distributed and highly ephemeral species of seagrass. Furthermore, the remaining mattress will provide potential habitat for attachment of macrophytic species and habitat for macroinvertebrates. The mattress will also provide stabilization of sediments and aid in water quality improvements for the establishment of benthic species in adjacent areas, offsetting direct impacts. Therefore, compensatory mitigation is not proposed.
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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), or adversely modify its designated critical habitat. This determination is based on the use of the manatee key dated March 2013 resulting in the following sequence: A-B-C-G-N-O-P. Therefore, no further coordination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the smalltooth sawfish, and endangered and threatened swimming sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, and Caretta caretta and its designated critical habitat); Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris); North Atlantic Right Whale; Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmate) critical habitat. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service's concurrence 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 proposed project will impact 2.46 acres of benthic habitat characterized as sand/silt bottom utilized by various life stages of utilized penaeid shrimp complex, red drum, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Benthic and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) surveys were completed in September 2022. Based on these surveys, there is one 3.28 foot1 by 2.3-foot patch of Halophila decipiens, with 10-15% coverage, located adjacent to the Berth 1D. An additional small patch of H. decipiens, with 10-15% coverage, is located within 50 feet from of the existing bulkhead along the western portion of the NBEC. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 is located within Lake Mabel and the Stranahan River. The waterway is measured to be approximately 1,300 and 816 feet wide, measured from the existing seawall wet face to the approximate mean high water line on the opposite bank, respectively. The proposed bulkheads along Lake Mabel will extend a maximum distance of 6.25 feet into the waterway, occupying 0.005 percent of the waterway. The proposed bulkheads along the Stranahan River will extend a maximum distance of 40 feet into the waterway, occupying 0.05 percent of the waterway. The project will be coordinated and reviewed by the Corps Navigation Section for potential impacts to navigation.
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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 or via email to Patricia.R.Clune@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, Patricia Clune, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Patricia.R.Clune@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (561)785-3261.
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.
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.