13-025 Corps extends public comment period on potential water quality effects of proposed Snake River sediment management

Published April 9, 2013

Comments on Clean Water Act compliance for proposed sediment management (dredging) to reestablish the Lower Snake River navigation channel now due April 30

LEWISTON, Wash. – To allow for wider public input, the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is extending the public comment period regarding Clean Water Act (CWA) compliance for a proposed dredging and in-water disposal action. The proposed action will be accomplished consistent with the associated draft Programmatic Sediment Management Plan (PSMP).

Comments on the CWA compliance for the proposed dredging and in-water work are now due to the Corps by April 30. A separate but related public comment period for the Washington Dept. of Ecology regarding the same proposed in-water work has also been extended to April 30.

Specifically, the Corps invites public comments on CWA “Section 404” requirements regarding a proposed immediate need action of dredging plus in-water disposal of dredged materials to reestablish the navigation channel. This proposed Corps dredging activity is subject to the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-217).  The CWA requires that all civil works projects be evaluated as to the effect of discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States prior to making the discharge. 

The public also may comment to the Washington Dept. of Ecology regarding CWA “Section 401” water quality certification. The Corps has requested that Washington Dept. of Ecology certify that the discharges of dredged material will not violate existing state water quality standards. 

Dredging is one of several tools outlined in the PSMP draft EIS for managing lower Snake River problem sediment. Dredging is proposed at this time because sediment is interfering with commercial navigation, and dredging is the only available short-term solution to restore the federal navigation channel to its Congressionally authorized dimensions of 14 feet deep by 250 feet wide at minimum operating pool. Dredging is proposed to occur during a winter “in-water work window” from Dec. 15 to March 1. Maintenance dredging has not been performed since the winter of 2005-2006.

Public comments to the Corps about Section 404 requirements regarding dredging and in-water disposal of dredged materials are now due no later than April 30, 2013. Comments may be emailed to psmp@usace.army.mil or sent via U.S. Mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, PSMP/EIS, ATTN:  Sandy Shelin, CENWW-PM-PD-EC, 201 N. 3rd Avenue, Walla Walla, WA  99362-1876. U.S. Mail comments must be postmarked by April 30.

Any person who has an interest that may be affected by the disposal of this dredged material may also request the Corps of Engineers hold a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the same Corps address as above no later than April 30 and must clearly set forth the interest that may be affected and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.

Public comments to the Washington Dept. of Ecology about Section 401 water quality certification are now due no later than April 30, 2013.  Comments may be emailed to ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov or sent via U.S. Mail to Washington Department of Ecology, ATTN: Federal Permit Coordinator – SEA Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

For additional information, contact Ms. Sandy Shelin in Corps Environmental Compliance at 509-527-7265.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 13-025