USA: Corps Extends Comment Period on Snake River Dredging Plan
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 the proposed Snake River 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.
Press Release, April 10, 2013