Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

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Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

SAJ-2022-01066(SP-RJP)

USACE Jacksonville District, Regulatory Division
Published May 16, 2024
Expiration date: 5/31/2024

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 (DA) 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 Mr. Drew Bartlett
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (WOTUS), associated with the C-43 Canal, C-19 Canal and adjacent wetlands. The project site is located west of Lake Okeechobee adjacent to the C-19 and C-43 Canals, and approximately one (1) mile north of the applicant’s Water Control Structure S-47D. The proposed project is in the Hicpochee North Watershed (a headwater-watershed of the C-43 Canal). The proposed Lake Hicpochee Flow Equalization Basin (LHFEB) project is in Glades County, directly north of the Caloosahatchee River (C-43 Canal) and approximately three (3) miles west of the City of Moore Haven, off US-Highway 27 and Old County Road 78 in Sections 7-9, 11-20, 22-24, 26, 27 Township 42 South, Range 31 & 32 East, Glades County, Florida (Parcel ID: A26-42-31-A02-001-A-0000).

Directions to the site are as follows: To access the site, starting from the City of Moore Haven, travel west on US-27 approximately 4.5 miles to Bronson Road. Turn left on Bronson Road and head south approximately a quarter of a mile (0.25-miles) south.

APPROXIMATE PROJECT COORDINATES:

Project Coordinates

Latitude

Longitude

Center

26.831554°

-81.136765°


PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Water storage

Overall: To increase water storage capacity for the C-43 Canal, the C-19 Canal, and the Caloosahatchee River Watershed.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site was purchased by the applicant to support the implementation of the Lake Hicpochee Hydrologic Enhancement Project, a component of the Central Everglades Restoration Project (CERP). In 2017, the applicant completed an Environmental & Ecological Site Assessment to confirm conditions identified in the applicant’s 2015 assessment.

The proposed project site has been previously disturbed, mostly by agro-industrial practices due to residual agrichemical operations. The project site is dominated by exotics and invasive species, with isolated pockets of freshwater wetlands. The remaining agricultural fields are traversed by dirt berms, roads, drainage ditches and canals. The berms, roads, and other upland areas are dominated by a mix of exotics such as Brazilian pepper (S. terebinthifolius), with native areas of habitat consisting of cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), among other species. The land is converting back to pre-agricultural conditions, observing an increase dispersal of wetland growth to include mixed hardwood wetlands; mixed scrub-shrub wetlands; and shrub and brushlands. The soil conditions on-site, including Valkaria Fine Sand, 0 to 2 Percent Slopes; Immokalee Sand, 0 to 2 Percent Slopes; and Basinger Fine Sand, 0 to 2 Percent Slopes also appear to create functional conditions for natural regrowth.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a 2,200-acre expansion Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) with two (2) pump stations connected by an intake canal. The proposed project will connect to the existing equalization basin to allow for a total combined capacity of approximately 8,750 acre-feet. The proposed FEB bottom will be constructed to a uniform depth of 14.4-feet (NAVD88) and will be encompassed by a 24-foot-high perimeter embankment around the project site. Clean fill material derived from earth moving, ground grading from construction of the inflow canal, will convey water north into the FEB’s two (2) storage cells. A new outfall structure will be built for managed releases back into the C-43 Canal.

The proposed C-4 Intake Canal will be constructed to a uniform depth of approximately 2-feet (NAVD88), with a proposed canal elevation of approximately 16-feet (NAVD88), and a proposed canal width of approximately 100-feet (NAVD88). The proposed project will require a total cut-volume of approximately 232,523.99 cy and a total fill-volume of approximately 95,970.23 cy. The project proposes to fill a total of 198.17-acres of wetland habitat, of that, approximately 63.83-acres is old surface ditches.

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 applicant has proposed to utilize all Best Management Practices for in-water work, to include but not limited to erosion control measures and turbidity curtains will protect water quality and adjacent habitats and wetland systems. Turbidity curtains and silt fences will be deployed around all work areas that are in/over WOTUS.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The Corps is considering the applicant’s submitted compensatory mitigation plan as described below:

A total of 198.17 acres identified as, 6170 Mixed Wetland Hardwood (94.8-acres), 6172 Mixed Shrubs (67.9-acres), 6172 Mixed Shrubs Brazilian pepper (28.9-acres), and 6410 Freshwater Marsh (6.57-acres), will be impacted. The applicant has indicated that the loss will be offset by creation and enhancement of 1,631 acres of quality emergent wetland vegetation within the FEB. The applicant has indicated that the project will generate a surplus of Functional Gain Units, thereby creating more than sufficient habitat to offset the wetland impacts being identified.

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 Corps has reviewed the following federally-listed threatened or endangered species and the affects the proposed project may have. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi); Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus); wood stork (Mycteria americana); and the Florida panther (Puma concoryli), and may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), Eastern Black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. jamaicensis), Audubon’s crested caracara (Caracara cheriway), Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and West Indian manatee (Manatus trichechus). Additionally, the project is not likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitiat to the Everglade snail kite, and/or the Florida panther.

The Corps will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on our effect determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The applicant has indicated that there would be no essential fish habitat proposed to be impacted by this activity. 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 applicant has proposed that dredging and fill will be required in the C-19 C10anal to complete the outflow structure and C-43 Canal to complete the inflow structure. The applicant indicates that there will be no restrictions to navigation to the C-19 or C-43 Canal during or after construction.

SECTION 408: The applicant may 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 Blvd., Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 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, Ryan J. Poland, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Blvd. Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Ryan.J.Poland@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3512.

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, aesthetics, 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 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 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.