SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the El Paso County DPW Fountain Creek Realignment Project, which would result in impacts to approximately 3,700 linear feet (0.7 mi) and 11 acres of Fountain Creek, a waters of the United States. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged and/or fill material in waters of the United States.
El Paso County Public Services Department
3275 Akers Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80922
LOCATION: The project site is located on Fountain creek, Section 6, Township 16 S, Range 65 W, Latitude 38.6796°, Longitude -104.7064°, near Fountain, El Paso County, Colorado. The upper extent of the project area begins immediately upstream of the Riverside Mobile Home Park and extends downstream to just above the South Santa Fe Avenue overpass.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant proposes to relocate approximately 3,700 feet of Fountain Creek by constructing a new channel at a different alignment. The active channel would be moved laterally up to 200 feet away from the two eroding stream banks (bluffs) located on the outside of the meander bends. The proposed alignment would reduce channel sinuosity and stream length, while creating a narrower and deeper active channel through this reach. The work would involve excavating 11,863 cubic yards of streambed material from 3.8 acres of Fountain Creek to facilitate construction of the new active channel; and the discharge of 32,187 cubic yards of material into 7.2 acres of Fountain Creek to facilitate filling in the existing active channel. In addition, the project would result in the loss of approximately 4.5 acres of mature cottonwood riparian habitat (uplands) from construction of the new channel.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to protect the open space properties abutting the creek through this reach from erosion. El Paso County was awarded funding for this project under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBGDR) Infrastructure Allocation, Housing Assistance, and Watershed Resilience Program for flood recovery assistance associated with the 2013 and 2015 flooding of Fountain Creek. Please note that as part of this grant the Riverside Mobile Home Park and its residents will be relocated to another part of Fountain, Colorado; thereby eliminating the threat of flooding/erosion to the Mobile Home Park. The applicant believes there is a need to protect and prevent further erosion of the adjacent open space properties by implementing these realignment activities; while also increasing flood water/sediment conveyance through this reach and providing some in-stream aquatic habitat by utilizing rootwads to create their new streambank revetment. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
PROPOSED MITIGATION: The applicant has provided a mitigation statement outlining some conceptual mitigation strategies that may be utilized to offset adverse impacts; however, a detailed mitigation plan in accordance with the 2008 Mitigation Rule (33 CFR Part 332) has not been provided yet. The conceptual mitigation plan at this time includes the creation of approximately 1.3 acres of new oxbow wetlands in or adjacent to the new channel alignment, revegetation of disturbed areas from construction with native riparian plant species, and preservation of a riparian buffer along both sides of the channel realignment. The Corps will ensure appropriate and practicable compensatory mitigation is provided if this permit request is granted.
State Water Quality Certification. The applicant is required to obtain water quality certification, under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Section 401 requires that any applicant for an individual Section 404 permit provide proof of water quality certification to the Corps prior to permit issuance. For any proposed activity on Tribal land that is subject to Section 404 jurisdiction, where the tribe does not have water quality certifying authority, the applicant will be required to obtain water quality certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Environmental Setting. There is approximately 3,700 linear feet of perennial stream constituting waters of the U.S. within the proposed project area. The site can be characterized as a high sediment load perennial stream in a semi-urbanized environment, having two large meanders with cut banks or sandy bluffs on the outer bends. Based on our review of historic aerial photography, the current channel and alignment (including cut banks) has been relatively stable and effectively in its current location going back to at least 1937. Please note that 1937 was the earliest year photo we could readily find for this location, but we also referenced aerial photos from years 1947, 1960, 1969, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2011, and 2017.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Alternatives proposed by the applicant include: Alternative 1, Limited and Temporary stabilization through use of rock and woody debris; Alternative 2, Extensive realignment; Alternative 3, Limited Realignment (applicants preferred alternative); Alternative 4, No Action. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable or practicable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described 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 described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those 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, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).
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. 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 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.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the lead Federal Agency responsible for Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106) compliance for this project, as they are funding the project in its entirety. HUD and/or their delegate entered into Section 106 consultation with the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on November 22, 2016. On December 1, 2016, the SHPO provided concurrence via a letter on the finding of no historic properties affected.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the lead Federal Agency responsible for Section 7 Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance for this project, as they are funding the project in its entirety. HUD and/or their delegate entered into informal Section 7 ESA consultation with the Colorado office of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on August 25, 2016. On November 21, 2016, the USFWS provided concurrence on the finding of may affect, not likely to adversely affect.
FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT: The Corps is sending a copy of this public notice to the local floodplain administrator. In accordance with 44 CFR part 60 (Flood Plain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use), the floodplain administrators of participating communities are required to review all proposed development to determine if a floodplain development permit is required and maintain records of such review.
CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before March 29, 2019, which is the close of the comment period. Extensions of the comment period may be granted for valid reasons provided a written request is received by the limiting date. If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to:
Peter Olmstead, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District
Southern Colorado Regulatory Office
201 West 8th Street, Suite 350
Pueblo, Colorado 81003
Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice may be made publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act.