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SPECIAL PUBLIC NOTICE - Draft Regional General Permit No. 14 for Erosion Control and Other Minor Activities on the Fort Carson Army Garrison and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site

Published March 20, 2014
Expiration date: 4/20/2014

SUMMARY: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, (Corps) is proposing to reissue Regional General Permit (RGP) No. 14, formerly known as RGP No. SPA-2008-00058-SCO, for Erosion Control and Other Minor Activities on the Fort Carson Army Garrison (Fort Carson) and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS). A number of substantive changes have been made to the permit document since its previous version in order to provide clarification, improve the ease of use of the RGP, and improve coordination between Fort Carson and the Corps. The purpose of this public notice is to summarize the substantive changes in the RGP and solicit comments from interested parties.

In addition to the substantive changes summarized in this public notice, a number of non-substantive changes were also made in RGP 14 in order to enhance its readability and improve the consistency of its language and structure with other existing RGPs in the Albuquerque District area of responsibility in the State of Colorado. These non-substantive changes were not included in this summary because they do not affect the applicability and use of the permit.

AUTHORITY: Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) for the discharge of dredged or fill material in all waters of the United States (WOUS).

AREA OF COVERAGE: This RGP would be applicable to all WOUS, including wetlands, on federally owned lands and easements associated with or held by Fort Carson in El Paso, Pueblo, and Fremont Counties, and on PCMS in Las Animas County, Colorado, except for certain activity-specific restrictions as described in the Scope of Work section of the permit. Maps depicting the permit areas are attached to the draft permit document.

SCOPE OF ACTIVITIES: This RGP authorizes erosion control and other minor activities that would not result in more than minimal individual or cumulative adverse effects on the aquatic environment within the boundaries of Fort Carson and PCMS.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES:

A. The following change was made under the Permit Area section: Language was added restricting use of RGP within the Fort Carson Main Base (Cantonment) Area for the following activities:

1. Erosion Control (EC) Basins;

2. Banksloping of Erosion Courses; and

3. EC Terraces.

B. The following changes were made under the Scope of Work section:

1. EC Basins:

a. The name of this activity was changed from “EC and Stock Watering Impoundments” to “EC Basins” and all language referring to stock watering impoundments was removed from the activity description;

b. The acreage limit for fill material placed below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) of stream channels associated with this activity was reduced from 1/2 acre to 1/3 acre;

c. New language was added requiring the following site recovery and erosion control mechanisms: (1) stockpiling and reuse of topsoil as surface finish; (2) Seeding with the appropriate Fort Carson or PCMS critical-area seed mix above the normal high water line; and (3) installation of erosion blankets and rock armoring;

d. New language was added prohibiting the authorization of permanent impacts to wetlands associated with this activity unless waived in writing by the DE;

e. A new 1,000 linear foot limit was added for permanent impoundments of stream channels associated with this activity; and

f. A Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) requirement was added for the construction of new EC dams with footprints that result in the permanent loss of more than 300 linear feet of WOUS.

2. Banksloping of Erosion Courses:

a. New language was added allowing grade control, as needed, in order to maintain stability of the channel;

b. The slope recommendation for typical banksloping activities was changed from 8H:1V to 6H:1V;

c. The limit for filling and excavating associated with this activity was changed from 3 acres to 1,000 linear feet of stream channel below the OHWM; and

d. A PCN requirement was added for banksloping of erosion courses that would involve grade control or result in permanent impacts to greater than 1/3 acres of WOUS.

3. Check Dams:

a. New language was added prohibiting the construction of new check dams in perennial streams;

b. New language was added requiring check dams constructed of materials other than rock (discarded telephone poles, baled hay, or other similar clean material) be properly secured and strong enough to withstand expected high flows;

c. New language was added restricting the authorization of permanent impacts to wetlands associated with the construction of new check dams unless waived in writing by the DE; and

d. A PCN requirement was added for projects involving check dams with greater than 1/10 acre of permanent impacts to WOUS along a single stream reach.

4. Rock Armoring:

a. New language was added requiring rock armoring to be installed at grade;

b. A new 300-foot limit was added for impacts to stream channels associated with this activity within a single stream reach; and

c. A PCN requirement was added for rock armoring projects involving greater than 1/10 acre of permanent impacts to WOUS.

5. Hardened Crossings:

a. New language was added requiring the use of proper-sized aggregate material for surfacing hardened crossings in order to prevent erosion of surface materials into streams during expected high flows; and

b. New language was added requiring the design of hardened crossings to withstand expected high flows. Additionally, the final grade of hardened crossings will now be required to match the natural grade of the stream bed in order to prevent restriction of the channel capacity and impoundment of waters upstream of the crossings.

6. Culverts and Bridges:

a. Language was added allowing armoring of culvert and bridge crossings, as needed;

b. Language was removed recommending the use of bridges versus culverts for larger stream crossings;

c. New language was added requiring culvert and bridge crossings to be designed to withstand expected high flows; and
d. A PCN requirement was added for the construction of culvert and bridge crossings that result in greater than 1/3 acre of fill below the OHWM of the stream.

7. EC Terraces:

a. Water Diversions was removed from this activity and combined with Water Turnouts;

b. Language was added allowing armoring or EC terraces, as needed;

c. The limit for fill material associated with the construction of new EC terraces was changed from 1/3 acre to 1/10 acre below the OHWM; and

d. New language was added restricting the use of RGP 14 for the construction of EC terraces in perennial streams and wetlands;

8. Water Turnouts and Diversions:

a. The limit for fill material associated with the construction of water turnouts and diversions was changed from 1/3 acre to 1/10 acre below the OHWM for each structure unless waived in writing by the DE.

9. The following new categories of activities were added to the Scope of Work section:

a. Maintenance of Ditches and Unpaved Roads. In cases where drainage ditches may be jurisdictional (e.g., man-altered stream channels), this RGP authorizes routine maintenance, grading, and reshaping of drainage ditches and borrow ditches in order to restore their original conformation and capacity. Where unpaved roads cross such drainage features, this RGP also authorizes the repair and maintenance of the roads within jurisdictional areas. For these activities, the filled or excavated areas below the OHWM shall not exceed 1/3 acre unless waived in writing by the DE. This RGP authorizes the maintenance of ditches and unpaved roads within the Cantonment Area.

b. Utility Line Activities. This RGP authorizes activities required for the construction, maintenance, repair, and removal of utility lines and associated facilities provided that the activities do not result in impacts to greater than 1/10 acre of waters of the United States for each single and complete project unless waived in writing by the DE. PCN is required for utility line activities involving permanent impacts to WOUS, including wetlands. This RGP authorizes the utility line activities within the Cantonment Area.

c. Oil, Wastewater (Sewage and Industrial) and Hazardous Substances. This RGP authorizes activities conducted in response to the spill of POL, sewage, industrial wastewater or hazardous substances that enter or threaten to enter a waterway or drainage. Spill response activities, including testing (water, soil, sediment), containment, and clean up of contaminant(s) will be conducted in a manner that results in restoration of the aquatic habitat and water quality conditions to pre-spill conditions. This RGP authorizes the cleanup of oil, wastewater and hazardous substances within the Cantonment Area.

d. Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment and Enhancement Activities. This RGP authorizes activities in WOUS associated with the restoration, enhancement, and establishment of streams, wetlands, and riparian areas, including mechanized landclearing for the purpose of removing of invasive, exotic, or noxious vegetation, provided that the activities result in net increases in aquatic resource functions and services. This RGP does not authorize aquatic habitat restoration, establishment and enhancement projects that involve a fishery enhancement component in perennial streams. PCN is required for aquatic habitat restoration, establishment and enhancement activities authorized by this RGP. This RGP authorizes aquatic habitat restoration, establishment and enhancement activities within the Cantonment Area.

10. Other Activities:

a. The name and description of this activity were changed no longer to authorize activities that would exceed the limits allowed by the RGP. Activities that would fall into one of the categories but exceed the limits of any of the activities individually described under the Scope of Work section of the permit may be authorized on a case-by-case basis according to the activity-specific requirements annotated therein.

C. The Pre-Construction Notification Procedures section was revised to require the following additional information:

1. Pre-construction photos depicting the physical setting (to be compared to post-construction site conditions from the same photo points. Photos should contain figure labels with time, date, bearing, and a general description of the site;

2. A wetland delineation, if the project involves impacts to wetlands, based on the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual and the appropriate supplement for the area;

3. Documentation that potential impacts to ESA and historic sites have been addressed according to the requirements of General Conditions (GC) 7 and 8.

D. The following changes were made to the General Conditions section:

1. Added GC 4 restricting use of this RGP for activities that may impede fish passage;

2. Revised the language of GC 5 to require restoration of impacts to wetlands associated with temporary fill activities and compensatory mitigation for wetland losses that exceed 1/10 acre. For wetland losses of 1/10 acre or less, the Corps may determine on a case-by-case basis that compensatory mitigation is required. This permit does not authorize the loss of greater than 1/3 acre of wetlands;

3. Added GC 6 authorizing use of RGP 14 for emergency activities required to protect the health and safety of military and civilian personnel using MSRs immediately following storm damage. Under this new general condition, Fort Carson would be authorized to proceed with the implementation of such emergency activities upon receipt of verbal authorization from the Corps (i.e., without formal written PCN), contingent on assessment and planning for additional permanent repairs, as needed. Emergency activities authorized to proceed by verbal communication with the Corps would be required to meet the activity-specific criteria and all of the general conditions of the permit. Should the impacts associated with permanent repairs exceed the limits of this RGP, as determined after completion of the emergency repairs, Fort Carson may be required to apply for a standard individual permit before implementing the permanent repairs;

4. Revised the language of GC 7 requiring Fort Carson to removed abandoned structures in their entirety and restore the sites to pre-construction grades, including stabilization of all disturbed areas, or obtain a permit modification from the Corps;

5. Revised the language of GC 8 on compliance with the Endangered Species Act;

6. Revised the language of GC 9 on compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act;

7. Added GC 10 restricting the use of this RGP for discharges of dredged or fill material associated with channelization, ditching, mechanized land clearing, cutting off meanders, or blocking off channels, except for Scope of Work Activity No. 12 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment and Enhancement Activities; and

8. Revised GC 11 to require additional information in the quarterly reports, including assessments of the stability of the sites and any remedial work that may be required, if any, and photos of the completed work.

E. Added Map 3 depicting the boundary of the Cantonment Area.

LENGTH OF AUTHORIZATION: This RGP, if issued, will expire five years from the date of issuance.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification (or a waiver), as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, is required for this RGP. The State of Colorado Water Quality Control Division is evaluating the proposed RGP and the Corps anticipates that Colorado 401 Water Quality certification will be issued for the permit.

COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before April 20, 2014. 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:

Joshua Carpenter
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
200 South Santa Fe Avenue, Ste. 301
Pueblo, CO 81003
(719) 543-6914
Fax No. (719) 543-9475
E-mail: 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.