US Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District

Public Notices

NWW-2018-00051-I02

Published May 3, 2019
Expiration date: 6/3/2019

For the attached documents, please email the Corps Project Manager listed in the Public Notice below

Public Notice Date: May 3, 2019             Expiration Date: June 3, 2019

Application No.: NWW-2018-51-I02

Applicant:  Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation

Project Name:  China Diversion and Related Infrastructure

30 Day Notice

Interested parties are hereby notified that the Walla Walla District has received an application for a Department of the Army permit for certain work in Waters of the United States, including wetlands, as described in the attached documents:

  • China Diversion Joint Application.pdf
  • Attachment 1 Project Location and Maps.pdf
  • Attachment 2 Project Description and Materials.pdf
  • Attachment 3 Project Plans_Drawings.pdf
  • Attachment 4 Temporary and Permanent Impacts.pdf
  • Attachment 5 China Diversion Mitigation Approach 021219.pdf

APPLICANT:  Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Mr. Devin Heaps, PO Box 219, Owyhee, Nevada 89832.

AGENT: Mr. Jeff Olsson, DOWL, 1300 Cedar Street, Helena, Montana, 59601, (406) 324-7414.

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PROJECT MANAGER:  Mr. James M. Joyner, 900 N. Skyline Drive, Suite A, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402, (208) 522-1676, james.m.joyner@usace.army.mil.

PURPOSE: To resolve the physical and operational deficiencies of the existing China Diversion and related infrastructure, and to improve the availability and distribution of water throughout the Duck Valley Irrigation Project (DVIP).

WATERWAY: Owyhee River and adjacent wetlands (China Diversion Project); Boyle Creek and adjacent wetlands (Boyle Creek Mitigation Site); and Historic High Flow Channels of the Owyhee River and adjacent wetlands (Drain Recovery Mitigation Site).

LOCATION:  The proposed project (China Diversion Project) would be located on the Owyhee River South of Highway 225 at Milepost 121.2, within Section 1, Township 46 North, Range 52 East; Section 36, Township 47 North, Range 52 East; Section 6, Township 46 North, Range 53 East; and Section 31, Township 47 North, Range 53 East, near latitude 41.9242º N and longitude –116.0798º W, in Elko County, near Owyhee, Nevada.

The Boyle Creek Mitigation Site would be located on Boyle Creek Northwest of Mountain View Lake Dam, within Sections 1 and 12, Township 16 South, Range 2 East, near latitude 42.0578o N and longitude -116.1724o W, in Owyhee County, Idaho.

The Drain Recovery Mitigation Site would be located adjacent to the Owyhee River 1.35 miles west of the BIA 141 and Hwy 225 intersection, within Sections 16 and 21, Township 47 North, Range 52 East, near latitude 41.9661º N and longitude –116.1388º W, in Elko County, Nevada.  

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From the community of Owyhee, Nevada take Highway 225 south, then head east for approximately 1.5 miles.  The start of the proposed China Diversion project begins near milepost 121.2.  For the Boyle Creek Mitigation Site travel to the Mountain View Lake Dam, in Idaho, which is east of Highway 225/51 on BIA 8.  For the Drain Recovery Mitigation Site, take Highway 225 north from the community of Owyhee, Nevada for 1.4 miles to BIA 141.  Turn left on BIA 141 and travel 1.35 miles to the site.

AUTHORITY:  This permit will be issued or denied under the authority of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344).  A Department of the Army permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.

WORK: The China Diversion project would involve the discharge of approximately 1600 cubic yards (CY) of rock fill below the ordinary high water mark of the Owyhee River and its adjacent wetlands to develop a 61-acre regulating reservoir upstream of the existing China Diversion.  Additionally, approximately 54.74 acres of wetlands and 4.7 acres of river channel would be excavated and graded to facilitate development of the reservoir resulting in their loss and conversion to open water, resulting in 59.44 acres of direct impacts.  Specific project elements include:

  • Raising the spillway crest at the diversion by approximately 3 feet and extending rock riprap on the reservoir side of the diversion dam.
  • Clearing, grading, and excavating approximately 550,000 CY of soil from the Owyhee River and adjacent wetlands to create the 61-acre storage reservoir.
  • Constructing a new low flow channel for the river, within the proposed regulating reservoir pool.
  • Placement of excavated rock at the reservoir inlet as hardened/constructed riffles and erosion protection.
  • Construction of an access route (ramps) for maintenance at the reservoir.

The Boyle Creek Mitigation Site project would involve the discharge of approximately 12 CY of wood in 0.001 acres of Boyle Creek and adjacent wetlands associated with installing a new viewing platform and boardwalk.  The Boyle Creek Mitigation would enhance 119 acres of existing wetlands through cattle exclosure fencing.

The Drain Recovery Mitigation Site project would involve the discharge of approximately 100 CY of dirt, and 120 CY of rock and wood in 0.1 acre of wetlands to construct beaver dam analogs in the main channel.  The project would also require installing a diversion structure to divert ditch water into the historic river channels and excavating small areas to provide connectivity.  The Drain Recovery Mitigation proposes to enhance 5.3 acres and restore 29.7 acres of wetlands and restore approximately 6,000 linear feet of historic river channel.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Excess excavated material resulting from grading for the new reservoir may be used to raise the height of the existing diversion embankment and/or processed to produce material stockpiles for use by the Tribes.  Excess material will also be placed in a designated upland waste area south of the China Diversion and in an upland area along the toe of the existing hillside.

Improvements to the China Diversion would include reconstruction of the diversion at its current location to include new headworks, sluiceways, conduits, gates, outlet transitions, safety features, and overlaying the existing spillway.  Improvements to these existing irrigation facilities would be exempt from Section 404 Clean Water Act permitting (33 CFR 323.4(a)(3)).

CONSTRUCTION PERIOD:  Applicant proposes to start construction September 1, 2019 and end construction by September 1, 2021.  The permit would authorize construction for a period of three (3) years.

PROPOSED MITIGATION: The applicant proposes the following mitigation measures to avoid, minimize, and compensate for impacts to Waters of the United States from activities involving discharges of dredged or fill material. 

The applicant would implement the attached, “China Diversion Compensatory Wetland Mitigation Plan,” dated February 2019, prepared by Geum Environmental Consulting, Inc.  The plan includes the two mitigation sites referenced above (Boyle Creek and Drain Recovery Mitigation Sites) as well as the periphery of the new reservoir.  

OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS AND DA PERMITS ISSUED TO APPLICANT:  The Corps previously verified geotechnical investigations of the China Diversion site under Nationwide Permit 6.  The geotechnical work occurred March 2018. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) manages the China Diversion in trust for the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.  The project is currently under- going NEPA review by the BIA. 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION:  This notice will also serve as a Public Notice that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is evaluating whether to certify that the discharge of dredge and/or fill material proposed for this project will not violate existing water quality standards.  A Department of the Army permit will not be issued until water quality certification has been issued or waived by the EPA, as required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  Additionally, within thirty (30) days of this Public Notice, any person may provide written comments to EPA and/or request in writing that EPA provide them notice of their preliminary 401 Certification decision.  Comments concerning Water Quality Certification for this project should be mailed to the EPA at the contact address provided at the beginning of this notice.  

AQUATIC RESOURCE DESCRIPTION:  The Owyhee River is a water of the United States with perennial flow originating in Elko County in north eastern Nevada.  The Owyhee River flows to the northwest through the south west corner of Idaho and south eastern Oregon before joining the Snake River at the Oregon-Idaho border, west of Boise, Idaho.  Approximately 30 river miles upstream from the project area the Owyhee River is regulated by the Wild Horse Dam and Reservoir.  Within the evaluation extent, the Owyhee River flows westward between a steeply sloping valley wall to the south and State Highway 225 to the north.  The evaluation extent includes 1.1 river miles upstream of the existing China Diversion and approximately 400 feet downstream.  The hydrologic regime is influenced by the China Diversion and two irrigation diversions.  In addition to the approximately 7.3 acres of river channel within the evaluation area there are approximately 77.0 acres of Palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands in the Owyhee River floodplain adjacent to the river.  These wetlands are dominated by red-osier dogwood (Cornus alba), Woods’ rose (Rosa woodsii), yellow willow (Salix lutea) and sandbar willow (Salix exigua).

Within the Boyle Creek Mitigation Site area approximately 119.1 acres of wetland were delineated.  116.8 acres of this total was Palustrine emergent wetland with the remainder being Palustrine scrub-shrub wetland.  Emergent wetlands in the evaluation area are heavily grazed.  Dominant species included Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), spreading bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), silverweed (Potentilla anserina), clover species (Trifolium sp.), hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus) and Nebraska sedge (Carex nebrascensis).

Within the Drain Recovery Mitigation Site area approximately 1.2 acres of waters and 6.4 acres of wetland were delineated.  Waters were comprised of irrigation ditches which have largely replaced natural high-flow/old meander channels of the Owyhee River.  Among the above mentioned waters, the “drain ditch” is a water of the U.S. with perennial flow originating approximately 3 miles southeast of the mitigation area.  The drain collects water from agricultural fields and transports the water downstream emptying into the Owyhee River.  5.1 acres of Palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands and 1.3 acres of Palustrine emergent wetlands were also mapped.  The Palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands are dominated by species mentioned previously above.  The Palustrine emergent wetlands were dominated by American mannagrass (Glyceria grandis) and foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum), or common cattail (Typha latifolia). 

ANTICIPATED IMPACTS ON AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT:  The China Diversion project will result in permanent loss of wetlands and waters of the U.S. from the development of a regulating reservoir which will occupy an area of the Owyhee River and its floodplain.  As a result 4.7 acres of channel and 54.74 acres of wetland would be converted to open water (lacustrine) habitat.  It is anticipated that approximately 14.5 acres of lacustrine fringe wetland would develop on the upstream edge of the reservoir and around the reservoir pool over time.  At the Boyle Creek Mitigation Site approximately 0.001 acre of Palustrine emergent wetland would be lost to facilitate building of a new boardwalk and viewing platform.  At the Drain Recovery Mitigation Site approximately 1.1 acres of wetland would be temporarily impacted by excavation for and installation of beaver dam analogs.

Temporary impacts associated with the project and mitigation include; 2.39 acres of wetland impacts at the regulating reservoir and associated temporary access roads, 0.9 acres of wetland impacts at the Boyle Creek site associated with temporary access roads and construction of the viewing platform, and 0.82 acres of wetland impacts at the Drain Recovery site associated with temporary access roads and installing beaver dam analogs.       

OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS:  None.  

CULTURAL RESOURCES:  Coordination is currently being conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as the lead federal action agency, with respect to cultural resources and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.   

TRIBAL TREATY RIGHTS and INTERESTS:  Federal agencies acknowledge the federal trust responsibility arising from treaties, statues, executive orders and the historical relations between the United States and American Indian Tribes.  The federal government has a unique trust relationship with federally recognized American Indian Tribes, including the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.  The Corps has a responsibility and obligation to consider and consult on potential effects to Tribal rights, uses and interests.  The Corps further recognizes there may be a need for additional and on-going consultation. 

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The project is within the known or historic range of Gray Wolf.  Coordination is currently being conducted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine if the activity will have any effect on species designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or their critical habitat, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (87 Stat. 844). 

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT:  The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions or proposed actions, permitted, funded or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).  No EFH species are known to use the project area.  Preliminarily, we have determined the described activity would have no effect on EFH.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT:  Preliminary review indicates the proposed activities will not require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.  Comments provided will be considered in preparation of an Environmental Assessment. 

EVALUATION:  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest.  This 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 which may be relevant to the proposal 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.  In addition, our evaluation will include application of the EPA Guidelines (40 CFR 230) as required by Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act. 

CONSIDERATION OF PUBLIC COMMENTS:  The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the general public; Federal, State and local agencies and officials, Tribal entities 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 of Engineers 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.

PUBLIC HEARING:  Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this proposed activity.  Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing.  A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.

COMMENT & REVIEW PERIOD:  Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity.  Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of June 3, 2019, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration.

CORPS COMMENTS:  Please mail all comments to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Walla Walla District

James M. Joyner

Idaho Falls Regulatory Office

900 N Skyline Drive, Suite A

Idaho Falls, Idaho  83402-1700

Or email comments to:

james.m.joyner@usace.army.mil

All comments received will become part of the administrative record and will be considered in the final decision.  Comments are subject to public release under the Freedom of Information Act.

EPA COMMENTS:  Any person desiring to present views on the project pertaining to a request for water quality certification under Section 401 of the CWA, may do so by submitting written comments to one of the following addresses:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Region 9, WTR2-4

Leana Rosetti

75 Hawthorne Street

San Francisco, California 94105

 

Or email comments to:

leana.rosetti@epa.gov

 

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Region 10

Linda E. Storm

1200 Sixth Avenue, Mail Stop 14-D12

Seattle, Washington 98101-3140

 

Or email comments to:

storm.linda@epa.gov

 

 


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