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Clean Water Act news

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Clean Water Act news
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Savannah, GA
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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Regulatory Division
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English

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Periodicals; Wetlands; Wetland conservation; Wetland ecology; Wetland restoration;
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newspaper ( marcgt )
newspaper ( sobekcm )

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English
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Clean Water Act News, Savannah District;
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Quarterly;
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United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Savannah District;

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University of Florida
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This item is a work of the U.S. federal government and not subject to copyright pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §105.
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992713306 ( OCLC )
3114
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Savannah District, Regulatory Division Feb 2010 Volum e 2, Issue 1 mil Clean Water Act News Mitigation Guidelines Local practices released in Nov 2009 to ensure bank proposals in the State of Georgia comply with National Mitigation Rule. Draft Guidelines to Establish and inGA Court esy of photo: Gregg Smith "The purpose of this document is threefold : (I) to aid potential mitigat i on bank sponsors in the development of successful banking instruments (BO; (2) to present the roles of the interagency t eam in the approval process; and (3) to layout the operational considera tions in managing a bank," said Russ ell Kai ser, Chief, Regulatory Division, Savannah District (SAS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Under these recommended guidelines, the Bank Sponsor is required to prepare and sub mit the following documents to the USACE. The third submittal, Draft BI, should include a discussion on the findings of the data collection efforts proposed in the prospectus. Additional information to be included in this document is the legal provisions and operational me chanics of the mitigation bank. Legal Provisions. sponsors For wetlands, metries will assess buffer, abiotic, and biotic success. Success for each variable will be meas ured based upon a pass/fail approach. The percentage of variables with a passing s core will be used to determ ine if the bank has met the performance standards requir e d for a credit release. will need to present a strong rationale for To achieve a 50% credit r elease, the cuwhy they are not subject to holding a mulative score must achieve a mean score Financial Assurance (FA) that adeof60% If this minimum score is not o bquately covers the costs of work, includtained i n anyone year, no credit will b e ing construction, monitoring and longreleas ed If all credits are not released durterm maintenance/management," said Kaiser. The USACE will make a case-by-case determination on all proposed mitiga tion banks concerning the need for a FA. If the USACE determines that a FA is required, it is the bank sponsor's respon sibility to secure the FA. A FA may be in the fonn of a pcrfonn. ance bond, escrow account, casualty insur ance, letter of credit, legislative appropriation for government sponsored project, or other appropriate instnuncnt, subject to the ap proval of the USAGE. Where a FA is required, it will be ing a monitoting cycle, those credits with held may be eligible for release the follow ingyear. If the mean score is greater than 79 % the USACE may release 100% of th e to tal credits scheduled for release during th it monitoring period The fourth submittal, Final BI, is the compendium of all of the aforementioned documents After the Final BI i s signed by the sponsor and the USACE, it is a leg al, contractual document that provides illfor mation on how the bank will be opera t ed, monitored and tracked. Kais e r indicated after the Fiml BI linked to the credit release schedule (the is signed and all other site protection The first submittal, Drqft Prospectus, systematic release of credits during the I should include information that characterizes construction ph.ase and the monitoring measures are in-place, work efforts may initiate on the site, with the understanding that all other obligations will be impl e mented in accordance with the Final H I. existing site conditions; identifies potential site challeng es/opp ortunities in the wat er shed; and discusses the overall feasibility of using the proposed site as a mitigation bank. The second submittal, Prospectus, should include infonnation on the proposed mitiga tion plan. That is, what type of work will be proposed on the site, what data collection efforts are needed to demo nstrate hydro logic conditions will support proposed work and what long tenn monitoring efforts will be implemented to demonstrate success and warrant release of credits. period). However, t he FA may be struc tured so that partial monetary release occurs after construction and/or moni toring requirements have been met. Operational Requirements. For each bank proposal, the sponsor and the Interagency Review Team (IRT) shall id en tify specific bank objectives, which will be used to identify monitoring requirements. For streams, monitoring metries will assess physical, chemical and biological success. Inside this Issue: Mitigation Rule RIBITS Rollout ARRA RGPs Issued 2010 Initiatives Personnel Changes Regulatory Says Goodbye Celebrations Regulatory Offices and Profile 3 3 4 6 6 6 7 8

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Savannah District, Regulatory Division Feb 2010 Vo lume 2, I ssue 1 Mitigation Guidelines Released What's the BIEF? According to Justin Hammonds, Miti gation Liaison for Regulatory Division, BIEF, BI Evaluation and Findings, is an internal document that is used by regu latory project managers/specialists to ensure a mitigation bank proposal is con sistent v.ith the criteria provided in the Rule and across the district. Guidelines to Evaluate Proposed Mitigation Bank Credit Pur chases in the Sta l e of Georgia Courtesy of photo: Murpb} R. Win n These guidelines have been developed to provide the regulated community with recommendations to aid in the selection of a mitigation bank to ensure adequate compensation for USACE p ermitted aquatic resource losses in the State of Georgia. According to Hammonds, Savannah District regulat o ry program has historically operated upon a conglomera tion of both published and unpublished guidelines directing the public's use of mitigation banks to compensate for aquatic resource impacts. This guide cap tures the District's existing guidelines for bank use, while i n troducing several new initiatives to enhance the selection of miti gation banks in the State of Georgia This document will provide increased transpar ency and clarity to the regulated public regarding appropriate bank selection This new guidance requires applicants to investigate the availability of bank cred its from the applicable service areas and provide a recommendation to the USACE. It is then USACE's responsibility to conduct a case-by-case review of the facts and pro vide a final statement on concurrence of the use of a specific m i tigation bank for com pensation for aquatic impacts. In accordance with the Rule, bank credits must adequately compensate for aquatic resource functional losses based on a water shed / service area analysis, meaning re so u rce credit tradeoffs must be similar in nature and located within the same water shed/hydrologic unit code (HUC). "Historically, the District has allowed mitigation banks to serve as compensation for aquatic resource impacts in both pri mary (PSA) and secondary service areas (SSA), which were spatially defined by the boundaries of one or multiple a-digit Hues. This guidance specifies that replacement credits shou l d be obtained from a mitigation bank v"ith a PSA that encom passes the impact area, if available and ap propriate, said Hammonds. Further, for banks that were not submit ted to the USACE prior to the effective date of the guidance document, and if there are multiple a-digit HUCs within the PSA, credits must be obtained from a mitigation bank within the a-digit HUC in which the impact occurred, if available and appropri ate If appropriate credits are not available from a mitigation bank within the impact H UC, rep l acement credits may be obtained elsewhere in the approved PSA, if appropri ate and available. In response to comments received from the banking community during our stake holder coordination, we have provided a grandfathering clause which would not sub j e ct banks t o the a-digit HUC impact analy sis, if those banks were proposed or author ized prior to the effective date of the guid ance, said Hammonds. For grandfathered banks, the analysis may be fulfilled by as sessing those banks that have available and appropriate credits within the PSA, as ap proved in the signed B1. If appropriate credits are not available within the PSA, replacement credits may be obtained from the SSA Compensation for impacts a t a site that is not within either t he PSA or SSA of an approved mitigation bank is not acceptable, unless approved by the IRT. According to Hammonds, new, excit ing initiative that has been incorporated as a part of this guidance is the development of a spatial proximity mitigation discount." If an applicant obtains the appropriate credits from a bank whose PSA encom passes the impact area, and the bank i s also located within the 12-digit HUC in which the impact area is situated, the USACE will reduce the overall compensatory mitigation requirement for the proposed impact b y 10%. RIBITS: Regulatory Division has a l so rolled out an interactive web-based mi t iga tion bank tracking system. RIBIT'S allows the public to view service area, habi tat and credit information on USACE-ap p roved mitigation banks in any locality or wat er shed in the State of Georgia. According to Katie Freas, the Regulatory Div i sion RIBIT'S Program Manager, will allow us to more accurat ely track the mitigation banking program in Georgia and increase our transparency to the agencies, as well as the public. We should see many benefits of the switch to RIBITS, including an increase in the i n volvement of bankers in the tracking p r oc ess, more continued participation on t h e part of the project managers once a ban k has been approved, and a decrease in t i me spent responding to information requests on specific banks. Potential perm i ttee s will also en j oy the ability to see which ban ks have credits, as well as which banks have credits that will mitigate for their prop o sed impacts." "Right now, we have approximately 70 active banks loaded in RIBITS. RIBITS is also a cyber repository for the electro m c copies of all Final BIs and other sUPPOl.1:ing documentation. Furthermore, we are n ow beginning the process of adding all of our pending banks to RIBIT'S. This will allow the public and potential bankers t o see what we have in the queue which sho u ld allow for better decisions to be made \\ hen prospective bankers are determining where to locate additional banks. "Once w e have all of the existing, pending banks up l o a ded into the system, we will make it our po l icy to add pending banks to RIBIT'S as soo n as they go out on Public Notice. This sho u ld keep everyone as up-to-date as possibl e with our process and potentia l said Kaiser. Steve Martin RIBITS Program Manager, Ins t itute for Water Resources, indicat e d that "RIBIT'S will provide Savannah with a useful tool for managing its large and ro bust banking program. "I'm very exci t ed about RlBITS as it is today, and even more excited about the new features that will be implemented in the coming months, s aid Freas. RIBIT'S can be found at; http;!/216.83.232.125; 443/plsjhtmldb/f?p= 10 RP: P 2 LBUTrON _KEY:9. All other mitigation documents mentioned herein can be found at : http :// .... ww.s.as.usace.army miljBanking.h tm 2

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Savannah D istrict, Regulatory Division Feb 201 0 V o l u m e 2, I s s u e 1 RIBITS Rollout Regul a tory Division introduced RlBITS and Steve Martin, RIBITS Program Manager Institute for Water Re sources, U SACE, provided implemen tation worksh o ps on Jan 19-20 2010 at the District Offic e Workshop s in cluded partici p ants from the regulated com m unity, b ankers, consulta n ts, and resource agency staff. More informa -Fina l Nati o n a l Mi t igati on Ru l e The Final Mitigation Rule was published on Apr 10, 2008, and implemented on 9 Jul :wo8. Banking Instruments (BI) approved on or before Julg, :2008, were grandfathered in that approved BI operations are not subject to the provisions of the Rule. All BIs approved after Juig, 2008, must co m ply with the conditions in the Rule The intent of the Final Mitigation Rule was to s t andardize compensatory mitigation at a nationallevel. CompensatonJ Mi6ga60n includes different measures taken to offs et unavoidable impacts created by a discharge of dredged and/ or fill material in aquatic resources In general, mi t igation should be located within the same watershed as the impact site. and should be located in the landscape where it will most likely successfully replace lost functions and services, taking into account such watershed scale features as aquatic habitat diversity, habitat connectivity, relationships to hydrologic sources, trends in land use, ecological benefits and compatibility with adjacent land uses. Although pennit applicants are responsible for proposing an appropriate compensatory mitigat i on option to offset unavoidable im pacts, the District Engineer should give preference first to the use of mitigation hank credits where appropriate, second to in-lieu fee programs, and third to pennittee-responsible mitigation Compensatory mitigation requirements must be commensurate with the amount and type of impact that is associated with a particular Department of the Army pennit. 3

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Savannah District, Regulatory Division Feb 2010 Volume 2, Issue 1 ARRA RGPs Issued! lC!JL U.S. ARMY CORPS OF E N G INEERS For Immediate Release: February 1, 2010 News Release No. NEWS RELEASE BUILDING STRONG. Contact: After hours: II Billy Jeanne Hodge. :. Regiona l Gen eral Permits expedite proc ess; protect envi r onment SAVANNAH, GEORGIA Officials wrth the today that they will begin accepting applications for impacts to streams and wetlandS. These RGPs aUow for expedited i i o f publicly-funded projects i n non-tidal waters throughout Georgia. Many such projects may be fUnded Amencan Recovery and ReInvestment Act ( ARRA). These RGPs quicken the permitting p rocess While ensuring onl y minimal impacts to wetlands and streams. Private OInd commercial projects cannot use tr.e new permits. "Projects a pproved under the new permits must still meet a ll existing goals o f the C lean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act: said R uss Kaiser, Chief of the Regulatory DIvisIon for the Savannah District. "This special permit category expedites the process. but doesn't lessen prot ections." The RGPs (numbered 105. 106. 107. and 106) support President Barack Obama's efforts to spur employment and economic recovery. The permits allow local gcvernments to mov e quickl y and more efficiently to begin and complete publ i c projects, which meets the basiC goal s o f the ARRA. sometimes Known as the Stimulus Package. Kaiser said. Contrary to some reports. the permits maintain protections for streams and wetlands. Under the new process. certai n eategories of loea! government projects that wou l d normally require an individual permit can be accomplished with a general permit usuall y a faster process. Condit ions limit the types and extent o f impacts to the enVironment autho.-Qed under the RGPs on
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Savannah District, Regulatory Division Feb 2010 Volum e 2, ISiue 1 ARRA RG Ps Issued! Savannah D istrict issued several Regional General Permits CROPs) to expedite the permit process as a way to further the basic goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). RGPs are as follows : 105 Widening or improvement of existing transportation projects; 106 Bridge replacement projects; 107 -Construction of institutional facilities such as governmental offices, schools, l ibraries, and museums; and 108 Construction of infrastructure projects such as wa ter treatment facilities and storm water management facilities. Since the last issue, we have held a public workshop in Macon, and taken considerable steps to ensure poten tial programmatic impacts would result in impacts to waters of the US that are minima1 (or less) and thus qualify for coverage an RGP. Impact thresholds are determined for each HUC) watershed in the State based on existing and projected ment trends. Th e pennits may authorize up to 5 acres of wet l and impact and/or 1 ,000 linear feet of intennittent or pe r ennial stream impact for an indiv i d ual publical!y funded project. In addition the p e nnits ma y aut hori:.:e up to a cum u lative total of 10 acres of wetland impact and/or 2 000 lin e ar feel of intennittcnt or perennia l stream impact for multiple pub l ically funded projects within a single watershed (8-digit Hydrologic Unit Co jc) As indicated above, certain wa te rsheds have more restrictive individual project and cumu l ative wetland and stream impact limits For streams: 40 watershe ds could be impacted at a 2000 linear foot limit; 6 watersheds could be impacted at 1000 linear foo t Ii nit; and 6 watersheds wou l d be excluded from impacts. For wetland s : 3 7 watersheds could be impacted at a lO-acre limitHH; 4 watersbeds at a limit; and 11 watersheds would be excluded from impacts. Additionally, for a single linear project, a maximum of 10 aCles of wetlands and/or 2,000 linear feet of stream over multiple crossings could be authorized, where no more than 3 acres of wetlands and/or 500 feet of stream could be filled at anyone crossing. Under the new process, app licants will be require d to submit, at a minimum, the following information: (1) description of the proposed project; (2) determination of waters of the U S., including wetlands, to be filled by the prop osed project; (3) statement regarding whether the activity would occur in or adjacent to Georgia 303(d} listed waters; (4) analysis of both off-site and on site alternative s, documenting that aquatic impacts hav e been avoided and/or minimized to the maximum extent practicable; (5) confirmation that the work would be performed in compliance with applicable FEMA requirements, if the project involves fill i:l the (6) wetland/ stream mitigat ion plan that meets the requ irements ofthe new Mitigation Rule; (7) endangered species survey; (8) Phase I Cultural Resources Survey; and (9) documentation that at least one public workshop has been held in the vicinity ofthe proposed project and copies of a1l commmts received at that meeting be submitting to Regulatory. Additional information a n d other conditions are provided at: http://www.sas.usac e .army.mil /News.htm. According to Ka iser, after we confirm that all required information is submitted in the application and the impacts are under the required thresholds w II we complete coordination with the Federal and State agencies and determine if unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources are mini nal. If minima1 and other applicable Federal and S t a t e permits have been obtained, then we could authorize work." 'lbe Augusta Chronicle. Stimulus funds to help wetlands projects Thursday. Feb. 4 201q A new regional permitting program funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act will expedite Army Corps of Engineers approval for certai n publicl y funded projects that impact wetlands and streams. The Regional General Permit program will quicken the approval process for projects in non-tidal waters throughout Georgia, ar d will also ensure minimal impacts to wetlands and streams. The permits are availab l e only for publicly funded projects, and cannot be used for private and commercial projects. "Projects approved under the new permits must still meet all requirements of the C lean Water Act and the National Environmen tal Policy Act,H said Russ Ka iser, Regulatory Divi sion chieffor the corps Savannah Dis t rict. ''This special permit category expedites the process, but doesn't lessen protections. The permits allow local governments to move quickly and more efficiently to begin and complete public projects, which meet the basic goals of the ARM, also known as the Stimulus Package, Kaise r said. To use one of the regional permits, an appl icant must receive at least two approvals. One comes from the Corps of Enginee rs velify ing that the project meets to the requirements of the RGPs. The applicant must also obtain a separate indi vidual Water Quality Ce ltification from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division In some cases applicants may also need a Georgia Coastal Zone Consistency permit before beginning work. RGPs were introduced by Richard Morgan, Chief, Special Projects Section, Coast a l Branch, at the "Wetlands and Water Law i n the Southeast" Conference (Feb 19, 2010). Morgan explained that "process improvements would retain current levels of protection while potentially reduce process and staff time by 50%. He also stated that the RGPs were positive l y received by the audience." 5

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Savannah District, Regulatory Division Feb 20 1 0 Vol ume 2, Issue 1 2010 Initiatives Updating the In-Lieu Fee Guidelines. Preparing field manuals to assist regulatory staff and private consultants in pertonning wetland and/or stream delineations. One manual will present common hydrophytic plants as well as identification techniques for hydric soils and hydrologic indicator> specific to the state of Georgia and the Savannah District, and a second for identifying stream indicators and limits Developing mitigatio n monitoring sampling protocol and other assessment tools for monitoring mitigation site performance Deploying AVATAR: an i nteractive web-based system with human depiction training modules that will utilize the best parts (of face-to-face training with computer-based l earning techniques. The goals of using an avatar in the regulatory program are to as sist applicants in the completion and submittal of a permit application and to enhance their regulatory knowledge by creatinj : a combination of activity-based training videos complimented by an avatar. Personnel Updates -----Justin Hanunonds, a n a tive of Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from Messiah College in 1997, with a B.S Degree in Science. Since 2006, he has been working as a P r oject Manager for the Savannah District, Regulatory Division, Piedmont Branch. Prior to his return to the US Army Ceen working for the Savannah D istrict; she began he r career as a Regulatory Specialist in the Coastal Branch. She also recently served as the Acting Chief of the Permits Section (effective Dec 1 -31, 2009). Mark Padgett, a Georgia native, graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia in 1980, with a B.S Degree in Environmental Science He worked for the National Park Service as a Park Ranger at Fort Pulaski National Monument from 1980 to 1990 and hes worked for the Savannah Dis t rict Regulatory Division the past 19 years. He is currently a Senior Project Manager in the Coastal Branch. He is currently the Acting Chief of the Permits Section (effective Jan 1, 2010). Adatn White, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University, with a B.S. Degree i n Natural Resource Management. Sil lce 2009, he has been working for the Savannah District as a Regulatory Specialist in the Piedmont Branch. Regulatory Says Goodbye Williatn Fonferek rctired on Dec 3, 2009, after 37 years of govern ment service. Bill started his career as an Environmental Special ist with Nashville District in 1978, transferred to Plan ning Dh1sion, Jaeksomille District in 1989, and moved to Savannah District in :W05 He retired as the Chief, Special Projects Section, in the Morrow Office. He has left many footsteps along the way. In he developed regional ro.'WP condi tions to protect the endangered Nashville Cray fish. In Jacksonville, he was m<>1 noted for his contrihution for creating the District's Migratory Bird Protection Plan, coordinating sea turtle issues with the NMFS, and representing the District on the Agency on Bay Management. In Sa\1U1nah, he created several initiatives that would help t he Corps v>-ith pennit compliance. He piay<:d on several championship golf and softball teams and was founder ofthc Chili Cookoff Contest. Bill graduated from the UW-Green Bay \\ith a B.s in Environmental Science. LaNeesh a Scott is leaving the Savann Dr. J effre y King re cently accepted a position 1\1th the Planning Divi sion, Mohile District. Jeff served the Savan nah Di<;trict for 4 years as a Regulatory Project Man ager and 1 additional year as Chief of the Pennits Section within the Coastal --,-0-, District to join her hus band in &!oui, South Korea. LaNcesha is a Regulatory Specialist in the Piedmont Branch of the Regulatory Dh1sion, located in Morrow, Geor __ -' gia. She has been with Branch. As Chief, he worked on se<;eral policy issues and supervised a staff of seven. As a Pro ject Manager, he also worked on numerous per mitting issues arising from complex projects proposed in the coastal counties of Georgia Prior to joining the Corps, he worked as a post-doctorJ.1 research engineer/scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and Savan nah River Kational Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina. He has also worked as an environ mental consultant a finn that specializes in coas tal-base1s. Sle has shown great leadership as a member (f the office's Activity Committce by planning special office C\'ents as well as managing the fund; of the committee. Prior to coming to work for the District she worked for the Georgia Em-ironmental PnJtec lion Division i n Atlanta, Georgia, for more than fourteen years, as an Environmental Specialist/ Compliance and Enforcement Officer. LaNcesha B.S. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Ge) rgia. 6

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Savannah District, Regulatory Division 4th Annual Chili Cook-off Piedmont Office held it's 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off on 12 Nov 2009. Judge, COL Brumfield, samples the first bowl (upper left). Alljudges are presented in upper right photograph. Chili master, Bill Fonferek (left) presents Ed Johnson (right) with the red hot chili-pepper trophy (center photo). Staff are shown in other photos. Feb 20 1 0 Vol ume 2, : ssue 1 Regulatory Division On 17 Ilec 09, COIstal staff ce elun c he'lll, sing ah. ng, and gif : exchange to kickoff the spirit o f the holida) sea-7

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Savannah District, Regulatory Divis ion F e b 20 1 0 Vo lume 2, I ssue 1 District Offices ALBANY FIELD OFFICE 1104 N WESTOVER BLVD UNIT 9 ALBAA"Y, GA 31707 1-229-43 -8566/ 6 7 SAVA.'mAH DISTRIcrOF"FICE CoASTAL OFFICE An;.;; CESAS RD-C 100 W. OGLETHORPE AVE P.O. Box 889 SAVANNAH, GA 31402 1-800-448 -2402 l.AN'IER FIELD OFFICE ATIN' CESASRD P P.O. Box 528 B UFORD, GA 30515 1 770 -9042 365 PIEDMONT BRANCH OFFICE Nrrn: CESASRD P 1590 ADAMSON P ARKWAY, S UITE 200 MORROW, GA 30260 1 -678-422 2 73 1 U::InF:a:Of!:tt B::to:c. Do you know your Regulatory Staff? Carol Bernstein, a native of W a s hington, D C., graduated from John Hopkins with a M.S. in Environmental S c i e n ce a n d from the Univ ersity o f Arizona with a B.S. in Re n e wable Natural Res ources. Carol h a s bee n w o rkin g f o r th e Savannah District sinc e 2001. Caro l is c hief oft b e Coastal Branc h o f the Savannah D ist ri c t Regulatory Divisi o n La s t year, s he c ompleted a d e velopmental assignment at H eadquarters USACE in th e R e gu lato ry Community o f Practice and earlier served a s Actin g Chief, Mobile District R egulatory Division. Ms B ernst e in joined the Baltimore Di strict in 1994 and worke d i n P lanning Division o n civil works and military planning p r o j ects, and on Hazardou s, T o xi c and Radioa ctiv e wa s t e projects (Supe rfund, FUDS FUSRAP) in Engineering Divi s ion. She has a total o f 16 years with the Corps Pri o r t o j oining the Corps, s h e work e d a s a field bio l ogi s t with a local civi l e ngineering! planning/ s urvey ing firm in Maryland, and a s a wildlife biologist with a n o nprofi t m e mbership c o aliti o n f ocused on corporate land stewardship. She also holds professi o na l regi stration as a certified Professi o nal Wetland S c ientist fr o m the Society o f W etland Scientists. 8