Col. Anthony Hofmann, Commander and District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District addressed the members of the Missouri Clean Water Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting in Jefferson City, Mo. regarding the Jameson Island Unit Shallow Water Habitat Restoration Project.
Hofmann briefed the commission in regards to the anticipated request for authorization under Sections 401 and 402 of the Clean Water Act for the project. He discussed the history of the Missouri River, the specifics of the Jameson Island Project, and the steps that the Corps has taken to address the previous concerns of the commission. The proposed plan would allow the Corps to meet their legal mandate under the 2003 Biological Opinion and mitigate fish and wildlife habitat losses which resulted from the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project.
When the Clean Water Commission asked the Corps to stop placing material in the river during Shallow Water Habitat construction in April 2007, it asked for the halt to endure, “until such time as the Corps could prove this activity has no adverse affect on the water quality of Missouri.”
Due to these concerns from the Clean Water Commission, the Corps voluntarily halted Shallow Water Habitat construction in Missouri in 2007. Since that time the Corps has worked diligently to address the commission’s concerns and provided technical information that would clearly demonstrate that this activity as proposed would not have adverse effects on the water quality of Missouri.
The Corps has taken several steps since that decision to address the Clean Water Commissions concerns. These included the implementation of a robust water quality monitoring program along the river and at the project sites. The Corps also commissioned an independent science review from the National Academies in 2008 with the results of that study released to the public in September 2010. The Corps has also consulted with federal and state agencies as well as our stakeholders to share the new information and complete the Project implementation Report on the Jameson Island Project.
The Jameson Island Unit Shallow Water Habitat Restoration Project is a component of the Army Corps’ overall Missouri River Recovery Program. The Corps is working cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on their existing public land to mitigate a portion of the diverse aquatic habitat that was lost as the result of the construction of the Army Corps’ Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project by restoring SWH through construction of a side channel chute and a backwater. The project is located on the Refuge’s Jameson Island Unit, on the right descending bank of the Missouri River, near river miles 210.5 to 211.7, near the town of Arrow Rock, Saline County, Mo.
The project would restore 30 acres of SWH (a 27-acre chute and a 3-acre backwater) and the dynamic river processes which maintain it for the benefit of native fish and wildlife species, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. The project has been developed to maintain the existing congressionally authorized project purposes of the Missouri River.
Last week the Corps announced that they were extending the public comment period on their Jameson Island Unit Shallow Water Habitat Restoration Project an additional 60 days, until June 30, 2012 and will hold a public hearing during the extended comment period in response to stakeholder requests.
David Hoover, Corps’ biologist said, “There is a good deal of interest in this project and we want to ensure that our Missouri River stakeholders have adequate time to review and comment on the Project Implementation Report with Integrated Environmental Assessment and Section 404(b)(1) Evaluation.”
Dredging Today Staff, May 4, 2012; Image: usace