WALLA WALLA, Washington – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and a Final Integrated Letter Report and Programmatic Environmental Assessment (LR/EA) for Federal Participation in Watercraft Inspection Stations in the Columbia River Basin. Public comments were previously invited through Jan. 12, 2017.
The FONSI, including the Comment Response Document and Comment Letters received, and the Final Integrated LR/EA are available on the Walla Walla District website at http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Compliance/. Scroll down the website page to “Final FONSI, LR/EA - Watercraft Inspection Stations.”
State-managed inspection stations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as zebra or quagga mussels carried on watercraft, entering the basin from outside the basin. The Columbia River Basin is one of the last major watersheds in the United States not infested with invasive zebra or quagga mussels.
The Corps will partner with the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington on establishing watercraft inspection stations at locations that protect the Columbia River Basin and provide the highest likelihood of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species into Corps-managed reservoirs in the Columbia River Basin. In accordance with Section 104 of the River and Harbor Act of 1958, as amended by Section 1039(d) of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 and Section 1178 of Water Infrastructure Improvements of the Nation Act of 2016, the Corps has authority to fund 50 percent of the cost to establish, operate, and maintain new or existing AIS watercraft inspection stations.
In the Final Integrated LR/EA, the Selected Alternative augments existing watercraft inspection programs by incorporating a comprehensive range of measures or “suite of tools” to be used and modified annually, depending on each state’s need and ability to fund its portion of the program, the results of regional coordination efforts, and availability of federal funding. The suite of tools includes Corps participation in regional strategy meetings to select the inspection locations, expanding the number of locations or hours of operation, adding canine detection capabilities, improving signage, constructing site improvements, and augmenting existing monitoring efforts and contingency and response planning efforts.
As the Final Integrated LR/EA notes, conservative estimates of average federal and non-federal annual operations and maintenance cost savings associated with deferring an aquatic invasive species infestation for one year is about $156 million. Total estimated costs of the inspection station program to protect the Columbia River Basin is about $7.4 million. Therefore, the benefit-to-cost ratio is favorable, about 8.4 to one. These economic benefits do not include the ecosystem benefits of delaying an infestation.
Release no. 17-023