HUNTINGTON, WV – The US Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, recently publicly noticed an application from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a Section 404 permit for the Buckeye Lake dam project. Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States.
The Army Corps notice states, “In March of 2015, it was determined that the Buckeye Lake Dam embankment did not meet dam safety standards and interim risk reduction measures (IRRM) were required to be implemented to mitigate the threat to public safety until a comprehensive repair or replacement of the dam could be completed.”
In July 2015, the Corps issued a Letter of Permission allowing Phase I to proceed without the required 404 permit. ODNR planned to place approximately 378,315 cubic yards of fill in front of the existing earthen dam, creating the some 30-foot wide stability berm. An interesting side note is that the Corps notice states that “normal pool elevation” is 891.75. ODNR claims it is 891.5 or three inches lower.
The notice states that an additional approximately 60,387 cubic yards will be placed in Buckeye Lake during Phase II construction. “Fill material would consist of impervious berm material, rip-rap, steel sheet piling, and concrete, as well as placement of fill material for temporary access during construction.”
The notice includes several attachments, including a cross section titled “Crest Option 2 – Large Solid Concrete Cap ( Preferred Option)” (see top photo). This “preferred option” looks nothing like the dam front rendering that ODNR released last month (bottom photo). It shows a “large solid concrete cap” extending from the existing sheeting to a few inches beyond seepage barrier installed during Phase 1. The top of the cap is at 895.0, with a 2 percent slope to the lake. No turf is shown on top of this concrete cap. Since the seepage barrier was installed approximately in the middle of the some 30-foot wide stability berm, the rendering should have shown a bare concrete cap extending from the existing sheeting/wall some 15 – 16 feet onto the stability berm. ODNR has stated that the new dam would have a 12 foot wide asphalt roadway but that isn’t shown in this drawing. The drawing does depict some turf beyond the cap and the notice states, “Turf would be established in the corridor between the existing soil mix cutoff wall (seepage barrier) and the rip-rap shoreline.
Three of the 14 turnarounds constructed along the stability berm “would remain following construction to enhance public access and recreational opportunities along the lake front…” Approximately 9,576 cubic yards of material would be removed, making a total 429,126 cubic yards of fill material permanently in the lake. This represents a loss of 26.6 acres of open water, according to the notice.
Section 404 requires that avoidance and minimization measures be considered. “To compensate for the discharge of dredged and/or fill material into 26.6 acres of open water, the applicant proposes to construct three fish habitat enhancement structures along approximately 3,513 linear feet of shoreline. The habitat structures would be constructed by repurposing approximately 30,000 cubic yard of rip-rap and embankment stability berm materials, as well as excess material used to facilitate the construction of the project. The fish habitat enhancements would cover a total area of 18.57 acres.”
“The Corps is soliciting comments from the public…in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity.” The notice specifically mentions comments on the effects on economics, aesthetics, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, recreation, “considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.”
Commentators may also request that a public hearing be held to consider the application. The notice states, “Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.” Comments are also used “to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.”
The entire notice, including the attachment show on Page 1, is available at: http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/1136742/lrh-2013-257-mus/
Public comments should be sent to:
United States Army Corps
(Public Notice No. LRH-2013-
502 Eighth Street
Huntington, WV 25701-
All public comments must reach the Huntington office on or before April 29, 2017.