Army Corps Permit Evaluation Process
The post about the proposed high-rise development in the floodplain/floodway of the San Jacinto River received thousands of views and hundreds of comments. I’ve also received lots of advice including two presentations by concerned residents. The presentations linked below discuss the Corps’ permit evaluation process.
Warning: NOT for the feint of heart. Together they contain more than 300 pages! Frankly, permit evaluation is far more complex than I imagined.
Plea for Expert Advice
I’m publishing the presentations here because thousands of engineers, project managers, and lawyers with technical backgrounds live in the Lake Houston area. With your help, I’m hoping we can sort through the material and determine a productive response to the Corps’ Public Notice.
As you review these, keep in mind what the Corps wants: “…to solicit your comments and information to better enable us to make a reasonable decision on factors affecting the public interest.” The Public Notice goes into great detail about the scope of the project but focuses largely on the environmental impact of introducing “68,323 cubic yards of fill material into 42.35 acres of wetlands and an estimated 285 cubic yards of fill material into 771 linear feet of streams adjacent to the West Fork San Jacinto River.”
Key Elements of Solicitation
Other key points to consider in the Public Notice include:
- “A preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required. Since permit assessment is a continuing process, this preliminary determination of EIS requirement will be changed if data or information brought forth in the coordination process is of a significant nature.”
- They say, “Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404 (b)(1) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).”
- “The TCEQ is reviewing this application under Section 401 of the CWA and in accordance with Title 30, Texas Administrative Code Section 279.1-13 to determine if the work would comply with State water quality standards.”
- “The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest.”
- They then define the public interest as: “All factors, which may be relevant to the proposal, will be considered: among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shore erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.”
Background Information on Corps’ Permit Evaluation Process
The first presentation sent to me describes the Corps permitting process and requirements to the Society of American Engineers.
The second goes into additional detail about the Corps regulatory program and how they make decisions. They developed it for a TxDOT conference.
I pray that people, their property, and their safety count for as much as birds and fish in this process. However, I’ve talked to several birders lately who are abuzz about eagle spottings near the project site.
All of us are smarter than any one of us. Please help!
Remember comments are due by January 29, 2019. If no comments are received, the Corps will assume there are no objections to the project. To submit comments: Reference USACE file number, SWG-2016-00384, and send to:
- Evaluation Branch, North Unit
- Regulatory Division, CESWG-RD-E
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- P.O. Box 1229
- Galveston, Texas 77553-1229
- 409-766-3869 Phone
- 409-766-6301 Fax
Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/30/2018
488 Days since Hurricane Harvey