US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District Website

SPA-2019-00114-SCO

Published Dec. 18, 2019
Expiration date: 1/30/2020

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the Fountain Creek Watershed Greenway and Flood Control District (FCWGFCD) to construct the Fountain Creek Channel Restoration at 13th Street Project (Project) in Pueblo, Colorado. The project would impact an approximately 2,934-foot reach of Fountain Creek generally located between 13th Street and 8th Street in the City of Pueblo. Details of the project are provided in this public notice and attached maps and drawings. The purpose of this public notice is to inform interested parties of the project and to solicit comments.

AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States (U.S.) and under 33 USC 408 (Section 408) for alterations to federally authorized Civil Works project, Fountain Creek Local Flood Protection.

APPLICANT: Larry Small, Fountain Creek Watershed Greenway and Flood Control District (FCWGFCD), P.O. Box 26373, Colorado Springs, CO 80936.

AGENT: Aaron Sutherlin, Matrix Design Group, 2435 Research Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

PROJECT LOCATION: The Project is located along Fountain Creek from upstream of 13th Street to downstream of 8th Street in Pueblo, CO.

ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING: Fountain Creek is dominated by coarse sand substrate due to high rates of erosion within the upper reaches of the watershed. These elevated rates of sedimentation within the project reach, as well as downstream within the Arkansas River Basin, have reduced channel capacity and increased risk for flooding within the watershed. Within the project reach, the stream is confined by levees that have limited lateral migration in recent years. As a result of watershed conditions upstream of the project site and confinement by levees, the stream has adjusted to handle a large sediment load by forming a wide, shallow active channel with multiple braided low flow channels that are prone to relocation during high flow events. Additionally, there are multiple major transportation crossings within the project reach, as well as upstream and downstream of the project site, which limit options for stabilization and channel improvements within the reach.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Project would involve channel realignment, channel stabilization, and re-vegetation. The purpose of channel realignment, as stated by the applicant, would be to provide a more stable slope and natural planform to help stabilize sediment transport in the reach. Channel realignment would include clearing and grubbing, grubbing, water control and dewatering, erosion and sediment control, and earthwork. Channel stabilization would include placement of riprap along the outside bends to protect against bank erosion and channel migration. Re-vegetation would include installation of erosion control blanket, riparian and upland seeding, and cottonwood and willow planting, which would be intended to help reduce sediment delivery downstream and allow floodplains to reestablish. The Project would result in the permanent impacts to approximately 17 acres of active stream bed and adjacent floodplain.

PURPOSE AND NEED: The applicant’s stated purpose and need for the Project is stabilization of Fountain Creek, reduction in erosion and corresponding sedimentation, and restoration of riparian aquatic and terrestrial habitat.

ALTERNATIVES: The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Alternatives proposed by the applicant include multiple alternative alignments, different combinations of materials (e.g., soil cement vs. toe wood bank stabilization) and construction techniques (e.g., with or without grade control), as well as no action. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.

MITIGATION: The applicant proposes that the Project would result in a net gain of wetlands acres within the active floodplain. The Albuquerque District will follow the South Pacific Division Mitigation and Monitoring Guidelines to determine if, and to what extent, compensatory mitigation may be required to offset the net loss of aquatic resource functions and/or surface area, conversion from one habitat type to another, and temporal losses, as well as any risk and uncertainty factors that may affect the overall success of the restoration aspects of the project.

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 and if the proposed alterations impair the usefulness of the federally authorized project for Section 408.  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 Corps consulted district files and records, the latest version of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and state records of NRHP-eligible and potentially eligible historic properties to determine if there are any historic properties that may be affected by the proposed undertaking. The project area has been recently surveyed for historic properties. Based on this initial information, the Corps has made a determination that the proposed project will not adversely affect any historic properties that meet the criteria for inclusion in the NRHP.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has reviewed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's latest published version of Federally-listed endangered and threatened species located in Pueblo County, Colorado to determine if any listed species or their critical habitat may occur in the proposed project area. The Corps has made a preliminary determination that the proposed project will not affect any Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

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.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT OF 1969 (NEPA): In accordance with environmental procedures and documentation required by NEPA, an environmental assessment will be prepared for this project. Upon completion, the assessment may be seen at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District Office, at the address given above.

OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS:

Section 408 Permit. This Project will also require permissions from the Corps pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 408 because it may alter a Corps federally authorized Civil Works project.

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.

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before January 17, 2020, 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:

US Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District
Southern Colorado Regulatory Branch
ATTN: Joshua Carpenter
201 West 8th Street, Suite 350
Pueblo, Colorado  81003
(719) 543-9459 x 2
Joshua.G.Carpenter@usace.army.mil

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.