SUBJECT: Public Notice for the Proposed BP America Cox Canyon Pipeline Protection Project
SUMMARY: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application from BP America to construct an erosion control project for an existing pipeline crossing. The proposed project involves placing filter fabric, cobble and chain link fencing over the cobble to protect two natural gas pipelines. One of the pipelines has been exposed by downcutting (erosion) within the streambed, and the other adjacent pipeline is now close to the surface. Materials will cover an area approximately 115 feet long by 40 feet wide, and the material will raise the bottom elevation of the streambed 16 inches upstream, increasing to 30 inches downstream. This will result in permanent impacts to approximately 4,600 square feet of waters of the United States within Cox Canyon. 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.).
APPLICANT: Mr. Tankard Floyd, BP America, 325 County Road 309A, Durango, CO 81301
LOCATION: The project site is located in Cox Canyon, Section 32, Township 32 North, Range 10 West, Latitude 36.9473, Longitude -107.90254, San Juan County, New Mexico.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Two natural gas pipelines presently cross Cox Canyon at the project site. The encased pipeline located downstream has become exposed due to downcutting (erosion) of the streambed. The second pipeline, located approximately 27 feet upstream, remains buried but is expected to become exposed as erosion continues. The erosion control structure will cover a total area of 115 feet by 40 feet. The base of the structure will consist of fabric, and six-to-eight inch river cobbles will overlay the fabric. The top layer of the structure will consist of wire netting similar to chain link fence material. Two-inch diameter anchor pipes placed 10 feet apart will hold the structure in place. The upstream face of the structure will be sloped up from the streambed to a height of 16 inches. The downstream face of the structure will require 30 inches of material that will be sloped down the streambed. Two wing-like structures will be constructed of the same material on each side of the upstream end of the structure to control potential bypassing of stream flows around the structure.
PURPOSE AND NEED: The purpose of the project is to prevent further erosion where two natural gas pipelines cross the stream. The project is needed to protect the pipelines from exposure to damage from high stream flows carrying rocks and debris.
PROPOSED MITIGATION: Since there are no wetland impacts associated with the proposed project and only impacts to open water with no vegetation the applicant proposes to adhere to best management practices. Post-project monitoring is also proposed.
State Water Quality Certification. The applicant is required to obtain water quality certification, under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, from the New Mexico Environment Department. Section 401 requires that any applicant for an individual Section 404 permit provide proof of water quality certification to the Corps of Engineers prior to permit issuance.
Environmental Setting. There are no wetlands within the proposed project area and there are approximately 115 linear feet of the intermittent stream that is waters of the U.S. within the proposed project area. The site is characterized by open water and sandy substrate below the ordinary high water mark.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. The applicant considered re-burying the pipelines to a dept of six feet. Re-burying would require trenching and construction of approximately 150 feet of new line on both sides of the canyon to match the new lower profile. It is possible that sandstone lies close the surface, making trenching difficult or impossible. An aerial support system was also considered, but determined to be less safe and stable as the proposed 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. 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 applicant conducted a cultural resources survey to determine if there are any historic properties that may be affected by the proposed undertaking. The Corps staff archeologist has reviewed the proposed project and determined that the project will have no potential to cause effect.
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 San Juan County, New Mexico, 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.
CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before August 16, 2013, 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:
Hildreth Cooper, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District
1970 E. Third Avenue, Suite 109
Durango, CO 81301
FAX: (970) 259-1658
Please not that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice may be made publically available through the Freedom of Information Act.