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LRH-2015-00673-ERI

Published April 7, 2016
Expiration date: 5/7/2016

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:  The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  This notice serves as the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) request to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to act on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application. 

 

APPLICANT:  Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)

1980 West Broad Street, Mail Stop 4170

Columbus, Ohio 43223

 

LOCATION:  The proposed project, referred to as SAN-523-0.00, PID 84079, is located along the south side of State Route (SR) 523 between SR 19 and Little Muddy Creek in Rice Township, Sandusky County, Ohio. Termini of the proposed project are as follows:

West terminus:   Latitude 41.44320 North and Longitude 83.13531 West

East terminus:   Latitude 41.44265 North and Longitude 83.07656 West

 

Waters of the United States (U.S.) within the proposed project area include Little Muddy Creek, two wetlands (Wetland A and Wetland B), and one jurisdictional ditch.  Little Muddy Creek is a direct tributary to Lake Erie, a traditional navigable water (TNW).

 

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant proposes to discharge fill material into waters of the U.S. to widen and resurface SR 523 between SR 19 and Little Muddy Creek.  The applicant proposes to relocate 665 linear feet of Druckenmiller Ditch, an intermittent captured stream, approximately 15-20 feet from the southern edge of pavement of SR 523 and extend a culvert by 20 feet.  Separate from the relocation of Druckenmiller Ditch, the applicant also proposes to lessen the side slopes of a jurisdictional ditch, identified as Ditch 2, and relocate the ditch approximately 15-20 feet from the southern edge of pavement of SR 523.  In conjunction with the relocation of Ditch 2, portions of Wetland A and B would be filled due to embankment grading.  One culvert would be installed in Ditch 2 at the eastern project terminus to facilitate drainage into Little Muddy Creek.  Please refer to Table 1 for a summary of discharges.  Plans of the proposal are attached to this Public Notice.

 

 

 

Table 1 – Nature of Proposed Discharges into Waters of the United States

LRH-2015-00673-ERI; SAN-523-0.00, PID: 84079

 

Corps Single and Complete Project ID /

Aquatic Resource ID

Type of Fill Activity

Permanent

Temporary

Fill Volume (cy)

Fill Area (ac)

Length (lf)

Fill Volume (cy)

Fill Area (ac)

Length (lf)

1 / Druckenmiller Ditch

Stream Relocation and Culvert Extension

140

0.13

665

161

0.011

751

2 / Ditch 2

Ditch Relocation and Culvert Installation

1,551

0.96

4,027

391

0.021

1001

2 / Wetland A

Embankment Grading

532

0.33

N/A

0

0.00

N/A

2 / Wetland B

Embankment Grading

482

0.032

N/A

0

0.00

N/A

Stream Totals

140

0.13

665

161

0.011

751

Ditch Totals

1,551

0.96

4,027

391

0.021

1001

Wetland Totals

580

0.36

N/A

0

0.00

N/A

              Notes: 1 Temporary discharges would be within the same footprint of the aquatic resource as the permanent discharges, and would occur before the aquatic resources would be permanently filled.

                  2 Wetland B is below the ordinary high water mark of Little Muddy Creek, but above the normal pool elevation of Little Muddy Creek.

 

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS:  As a result of the proposal, fill material would be discharged into 0.36-acre of two jurisdictional wetlands.  The project does not require access or proximity to or siting within the wetlands to fulfill its basic purpose and is considered a non-water dependent activity.  The Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines state that for non-water dependent activities, practicable alternatives that do not involve wetlands are presumed to be available, unless clearly demonstrated otherwise.  The applicant is required to provide an alternatives analysis that must overcome the presumption prior to receiving authorization for the discharge of fill material.  No permit would be issued unless the alternatives analysis clearly demonstrates that practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose.

 

The applicant has submitted an alternatives analysis for review.  The alternatives include a Preferred Alternative, a Minimal Degradation Alternative, and a Non-Degradation Alternative. 

  • Preferred Alternative (PA) – The applicant seeks authorization for their PA described above. 

  • Minimal Degradation Alternative (MDA) The MDA would involve the relocation of SR 523 roadway by 15 feet to the north for the majority of the project, except for the eastern project terminus at Little Muddy Creek.  The MDA would involve discharges of fill material into 22 linear feet of Druckenmiller Ditch for a culvert extension, 0.14-acre of Ditch 2 for ditch relocation, and 0.03-acre of Wetland B for embankment grading.  Wetland A would be completely avoided under the MDA. 

  • Non-Degradation Alternative - The Non-Degradation Alternative is a “no build” alternative.  Under the Non-Degradation Alternative, no discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. would occur.  The applicant has indicated the Non-Degradation Alternative would not meet the project purpose. 

     

    By appointment, a complete copy of the alternatives analysis can be reviewed at the address indicated above.

 

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  In evaluating a project area containing waters of the U.S., consideration must be given to avoiding waters of the U.S.  If waters of the U.S. cannot be avoided, the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. must be minimized.  A total of approximately 106 linear feet of Little Muddy Creek, 714 linear feet of Druckenmiller Ditch, 0.96-acre of Ditch 2, and 0.54-acre of wetland subject to Section 404 Clean Water Act regulation exist within the proposed project area.  Avoidance and minimization efforts were incorporated into the proposal.  According to the applicant and as described above, alternative plans were considered. 

 

The applicant has indicated the PA is best suited to address safety concerns and roadway deficiencies relative to the proximity of the southern ditch with SR 523, including steep slopes and pavement instability, while minimizing discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S. While the MDA would involve less discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S., the applicant determined it would require “S” curves at each end of relocated pavement to transition SR 523 to its current alignment at Gonya Road (Township Road 184) and at Little Muddy Creek.  The applicant determined the “S” curves would be an additional cost to the overall project and could create additional safety concerns along SR 523.

 

The proposed discharges would be minimized under the PA through the implementation of construction Best Management Practices (BMPs) for temporary erosion and sediment control and post-construction BMPs for minimization of roadway runoff in accordance with ODOT’s Construction and Materials Specifications and Location and Design Manual.  The applicant determined further avoidance of waters of the U.S. was not practicable due to the proximity of the aquatic resources to SR 523.

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN:  To compensate for the permanent discharge of fill material into 665 linear feet of stream, the applicant proposes to deduct 997.5 linear feet of stream preservation at the St. John’s Dam Removal site located on the Sandusky River in Seneca County, Ohio (Hydrologic Unit Code [HUC] 04100011), the same 8-digit HUC watershed where the proposed discharges would occur.  ODOT, the Ohio State University, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources own and/or are responsible for long-term protection of the stream preservation area.

 

To compensate for the discharge of fill material into wetlands, the applicant proposes to purchase 0.90-acre of wetland credit from the White Star Park Wetland Mitigation Bank in Sandusky County, Ohio (HUC 04100011), the same 8-digit HUC watershed where the proposed discharges would occur.  The applicant has not proposed any compensatory mitigation for discharges of fill material into Ditch 2.

 

 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION:  A Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

 

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES:  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead Federal agency for this project and is responsible for compliance with the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  Based on previous survey work and consultation performed by the applicant on behalf of FHWA, the applicant determined “no historic properties affected” is the appropriate finding for the proposed project.  In support of our independent permit decision, the Corps intends to rely upon the information collected and the consultation performed on behalf of FHWA regarding the effects to historic properties. 

 

A copy of this Public Notice will be sent to the Ohio History Connection, the State Historic Preservation Office, for review.  Comments concerning archaeological sensitivity of a project area should be based upon collected data.

 

THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The proposed project is located within the known or historic range of the following endangered (E), threatened (T), or proposed threatened (PT) species:  

  • Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) (E),

  • Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) (T),

  • Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) (E),

  • Piping plover (Charadrius melodus) (E),

  • Eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) (T),

  • Rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) (T), and

  • Eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) (PT). 

 

The FHWA is responsible for compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  On behalf of the FHWA, the applicant has determined the project would not affect any federally listed species.  In support of our independent permit decision, the Corps intends to rely upon the information collected by or on behalf of the FHWA and consultation performed by or on behalf of the FHWA regarding the effects to threatened or endangered species.

 

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS:  This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320‑332, the Regulatory Program of the Corps, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders.  Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act (40 CFR part 230).  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, 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 benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those factors are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic 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.  A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

 

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS:  The 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.  For accuracy and completeness of the administrative record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition.  Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in the notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application.  Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.  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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above.  Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Written statements received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination. 

 

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD:   All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice. 

If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District

ATTN: CELRH-RD-S-OT Public Notice No. LRH-2015-00673-ERI

Building 10 / Section 10

PO Box 3990

Columbus, OH 43218-3990

 

Please note names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this Public Notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, may be available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.  Thank you for your interest in our nation’s water resources.  If you have any questions concerning this Public Notice, please contact Brett Latta of the South/Transportation Branch, at (614) 692-4654, by mail at the above address, or by email at Brett.C.Latta@usace.army.mil.  

 

 

(O, B)