Saturday, October 3, 2015

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Water Control Manual for Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin for Public Review and Comment


MOBILE, AL - The U.S. Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District, has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Water Control Manual (WCM) for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACF) for public review and comment. As part of that review and comment process, USACE will hold five public open houses during the last week of October and the first week of November.

The public is invited to attend the meetings which will provide information on the DEIS and WCM. The DEIS presents the results of USACEs’ analysis of the environmental effects of the Proposed Action Alternative (PAA) for the ACF River Basin Master Water Control Manual.

“USACE evaluated an array of potential water management and water supply storage alternatives during the WCM update process, resulting in the selection of the PAA. Under the PAA, USACE would continue to operate the ACF as a system in a balanced manner to achieve all authorized project purposes,” E. Patrick Robbins, Public Affairs Officer said.

The PAA includes the following changes from current operations:
- Revised action zones
- Revised drought operations trigger
- Seasonal minimum flows at Peachtree Creek
- Modified hydropower generation schedule at Buford Dam for drought operations
- Four to five month navigation season (when basin hydrologic conditions allow)
- Suspension of ramping rates (Jim Woodruff Dam) during prolonged low flows
- Revised West Point Lake flood zone segmentation

The PAA also includes the following water supply provisions:
- Gross withdrawals of 225 mgd upstream of Buford Dam (includes reallocation of storage in Lake Lanier sufficient to provide gross water supply withdrawals of 165 mgd, the existing 20 mgd relocation contracts and 40 mgd from the proposed Glades Farm Reservoir in Hall County)
- Releases from Buford Dam to support downstream withdrawals of the estimated year 2040 need of 408 mgd

USACE did not review and analyze the issues that have arisen in the past two months prior to the release of the DEIS and WCM; these issues include the recent proposal to remove the minimum flow requirement at Peachtree Creek and changing population projections. Therefore, the DEIS and WCM do not include these proposals. They will be reviewed and analyzed along with other comments to the DEIS and WCM.

“We are continuing to coordinate with the appropriate resource agencies as we proceed with the NEPA process,” Robbins said. “We also look forward to hearing from all stakeholders throughout the basin as we move forward.”

The open house dates and locations are as follows:

October 26, 2015
Gainesville, Georgia
Gainesville Civic Center
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (EDT)
830 Green Street NE
Gainesville, GA 30501

October 27, 2015
West Point, Georgia
West Point Depot
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (EDT)
500 3rd Ave
West Point, GA 31833

October 28, 2015
Eufaula, Alabama
James S. Clark Center
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (CDT)
333 East Broad Street
Eufaula, AL 36027

October 29, 2015
Bainbridge, Georgia
Kirbo Regional Center
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (EDT)
2500 E. Shotwell Street
Bainbridge, Georgia 39819

November 9, 2015
Eastpoint, Florida
Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (EDT)
Environmental Education and Training Center
108 Island Drive
Eastpoint, Florida 32328

An online version of the DEIS and appendices may be found at http://www.sam.usace.army.mil beginning September 30, 2015. CDs will be available at the public meetings or by request to USACE. Requests should be addressed to Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Attn: PD-EI (ACF-DEIS), P.O. Box 2288, Mobile, AL 36628

A 60-day comment period will follow publication of the DEIS. The final EIS (FEIS) is scheduled to be completed and filed with the Environmental Protection Agency in the Fall of 2016. The Record of Decision (ROD), if appropriate, will be signed following the FEIS, and the ACF Water Control Manual is scheduled to be approved in Winter/Spring 2017.