Permit Application Public Notices

The United States Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate activities that may impact wetlands and waters of the United States. This authority is granted and defined under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, also known as the Clean Water Act.

Public involvement is a key element of the Corps’ permit review process. During an application review, the Corps considers the views of other federal, state and local agencies, Native American tribes, interest groups, and the general public. The results of this careful public interest review are fair and equitable decisions that allow reasonable use of private property, infrastructure development, and growth of the economy, while offsetting the authorized impacts to the waters of the United States.

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NWP-2012-196-5

Published Sept. 25, 2020
Expiration date: 10/19/2020

Joint Public Notice 
Application for a Department of the Army Permit and
a Washington Department of Ecology Water Quality Certification

US Army Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Branch
Post Office Box 2946
Portland, OR 97208-2946
Telephone: (503) 808-4383
ATTN: Brad Johnson

Project Manager WA Department of Ecology
SEA Program
Post Office Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-6068
ATTN: SEA Program,
Federal Permit Coordinator

Public Notice Date: September 18, 2020
Expiration Date: October 19, 2020
Reference No.: NWP-2012-196-5

Interested parties are hereby notified that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (Corps) and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) have received an application to perform work in waters of the U.S. as described below and shown on the attached plans. The Corps and Ecology are soliciting comments on the proposed work.

The Corps will review the work in accordance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 14 Rivers and Harbors Act 1899. Ecology will review the work pursuant to Section 401 of the CWA, with applicable provisions of State water pollution control laws.

Applicant: Port of Vancouver
ATTN: Matt Harding
3103 NW Lower River Road
Vancouver, Washington 98660
Email: mharding@portvanusa.com
Telephone: (360-992-1138) 

Location: The proposed project is located in the Columbia River - river miles 100.8 to 106.5 at the Port of Vancouver, Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. The coordinates for the center of the Port are: Latitude: 45.635833N° North, Longitude: -122.704722°.

Waterway: The Columbia River: The location of the ordinary high water mark shown on the project drawings have not yet been verified by the Corps. If the Corps determines the boundaries of the waters are substantially inaccurate a new public notice may be published.

Project Purpose: The applicant’s stated purpose is to facilitate the implementation of regular waterfront maintenance activities, on an as-needed basis, pursuant to predictable and uniform permitting requirements. Waterfront maintenance will ensure the integrity of the Port’s structures, safety of personnel, protection of the environment, and continued operation of the terminal facilities.

Project Description: The applicant proposes to conduct maintenance activities associated with pilings, over-water structures, and bulkheads at the Port of Vancouver within the Columbia River. Maintenance activities would occur at the following terminals and berths: 

Terminal 1

Terminal 2

Terminal 2, Berth 1

Terminal 2, Berth 2

Terminal 2, Berth 3

Terminal 2, Berth 4

Terminal 2, Berth 5

Terminal 2, Berth 7

Terminal 3, Berth 8

Terminal 3, Berth 9

Terminal 4, Berth 10

Terminal 4, Berth 13

Terminal 4, Berth 14

Terminal 5, Berth 17


Pile Maintenance: The Port proposes to replace up to 100 timber and/or concrete piles, and up to 40 steel piles per year at existing Port berths. The wood, concrete, and steel piles would vary in size and range from approximately 8 to 24 inches in diameter and up to approximately 120 feet long. All piling removal and replacement activities would occur within the existing dock, and/or dolphin footprints. Existing piles would be removed using a vibratory hammer and placed on a construction barge for removal to an upland disposal site. If a pile breaks during removal, the pile would be cut at the mudline with the portion above the mudline removed. Removed creosote-treated wood pile sections would be disposed of in a manner that precludes their further use and disposed of in an approved upland location. Concrete and timber piles would be installed with vibratory hammer or impact hammer. Steel piles would be installed with a vibratory hammer and proofed with an impact hammer. A bubble curtain would be utilized during impact hammer proofing of steel piles. If impact proofing is required on steel piles, an unconfined or confined bubble curtain or similarly effective noise attenuation device would be utilized if water velocity is 1.6 feet per second (1.1 miles per hour) or less for the entire installation period, surround the pile being driven by a confined or unconfined bubble curtain that will distribute small air bubbles around 100 percent of the pile perimeter for the full depth of the water column. A confined bubble curtain would be utilized if water velocity is greater than 1.6 feet per second (1.1 miles per hour) at any point during installation, surround the pile being driven by a confined bubble curtain (e.g., a bubble ring surrounded by a fabric or nonmetallic sleeve) that will distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of the pile perimeter for the full depth of the water column. A bubble curtain would not be required for impact installation of concrete or timber piles.

Piling Repair: Repair of piles would depend on the situation and condition of the pile. Repair work may include any of the following:

1. Cut deteriorated piles at an elevation where no pile deterioration is present and adding a new subcap with posts above or splicing new posts above using concrete filled steel collars. Where the pile is cut near or below the mudline, the pile would require a spliced collar connection to avoid a buried wood connection.
2. Use of a pile jacket or similar pile wrap to protect, repair, and/or strengthen existing piles. Voids could be filled with grout or epoxy as needed.
3. Post repair consisting of removal of deteriorated section of post and fill with new sub-cap and spacing corbels (supports). Alternatively remove and replace post to below bent cap above.
4. Remove and replace sub-cap and corbels with new connecting steel straps and thru-bolts.
5. Remove and replace deteriorated sections of bracing with new members or splice new members with new connections.
6. Add horizontal and longitudinal cross-bracing.
7. Provide new bolts and hardware with possible splices to new member pieces.

General Dock Maintenance: The Port of Vancouver maintains 619,850 square feet of pile supported docks and floating structures. The project would replace and maintain up to 61,985 square feet per year of the permit. The proposed activities would include the following actions on existing docks, dolphins, piers, railing, ladders, catwalks, bollards and buoys. In broad terms, the activities to be covered by the requested permit include, but are not limited to: 1) Repairing damage from flood, weather, floating debris, ships, vandalism, and general wear and tear; 2) Regular (routine) maintenance to keep docks, structures, and appurtenances unimpaired and in operation; 3) Grinding, welding, painting and general carpentry work; 4) Reconfiguring and repairing existing utilities; 5) Maintaining safety of structures. Table 1 below provides a detailed summary of the proposed maintenance activities. Work would be conducted above the ordinary high water mark or in the dry to the extent practicable. Equipment used to perform these activities would typically involve hand tools, but may require heavy equipment depending on the situation and scope of work. Best management practices (BMPs) would be employed during the proposed maintenance and repairs to minimize the potential for any effects to aquatic habitats or water quality.

The proposed general over-water structure maintenance includes the following:

1) Repair and/or replacement of catwalks and/or ladders
2) Repair and/or replacement of deck grating and surfaces
3) Repair and/or replacement of damaged concrete
4) Repair and/or replacement of topside equipment such as cleats, bollards, capstans, and winches
5) Repair and/or replacement of conveyor system parts and components such as belts, bearings, rollers, motors, and support structure
6) Repair and/or replacement of ship loading system components such as spouts, dust collectors, and superstructure
7) Repair and/or replacement of lighting systems
8) Minor repairs to painted surfaces, including scraping, sanding, priming, and re-painting
9) Repair and/or replacement of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical, or plumbing components such as ductwork, wiring, electrical controls, water, and sewer lines

Minor Pier Bulkhead Repairs (structural): Repair and replacement of pier bulkhead including partial demolition and reconstruction. Concrete patching and/or cast-in-pace reconstruction of existing pier bulkhead.

Mitigation: The applicant proposes to avoid and minimize impacts from the project by incorporated best management practices for piling replacement and over-water structure replacement. The applicant did not propose compensatory mitigation in the permit application. The Corps will determine the type and amount of compensatory mitigation necessary to offset environmental losses from the proposed project.

Drawings: Six (6) drawings are attached and labeled Corps No. NWP-2012-196-5. Copies of this public notice, which have been mailed or otherwise physically distributed, feature project drawings in black and white. The electronic version features those drawings in color, which we think more accurately illustrates the proposed project. To access the electronic version of this public notice, go to the Portland District Regulatory website at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory and select Regulatory Public Notices from the list of Regulatory pages.

Additional Information: The applicant has requested a permit expiration date of February 28, 2028. 

Authority: The proposed project will be evaluated by the Corps under the following:
Section 10, Rivers and Harbors Act 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), for work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States.

Section 14, Rivers and Harbors Act 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408) (referred to as “Section 408”), for work to alter a Corps civil works project. An alteration is defined as any action that builds upon, alters, improves, moves, occupies or otherwise affects the usefulness, or the structural or ecological integrity of a Corps federally authorized project. The proposed project may alter the Columbia River Navigation Channel.

Water Quality Certification: Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1341) requires applicants to obtain a water quality certification for proposed discharges into waters of the United States. A permit for the described work will not be issued until certification has been issued or is waived from the certifying state. Ecology is the certifying agency for the proposed project.

Endangered Species: Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1536) requires federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and/or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on all actions that may affect a species listed (or proposed for listing) under the ESA as threatened or endangered or that may adversely modify designated critical habitat. The Corps has completed formal consultation with NMFS and USFWS for the piling replacement and maintenance (NMFS No. WCR-2017-7322 and USFWS No. 01EWFW00-2017-F-1273-R001). The Corps’ preliminary review indicates the dock maintenance and bulkhead repair activities that do not involve piling maintenance and will not affect any endangered species or designated critical habitat. Consultation under Section 7 of the ESA is not required for the described activity. The Corps will make a final determination on the need to consult after receipt of comments from this public notice including any comments provided by the NMFS and/or USFWS.

Essential Fish Habitat: Section 305(b)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) as amended (16 U.S.C. 1855), requires Federal agencies to consult with the NMFS on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). The Corps has completed formal consultation with NMFS and USFWS for the piling replacement and maintenance (NMFS No. WCR-2017-7322 and USFWS No. 01EWFW00-2017-F-1273-R001). The Corps’ preliminary review indicates the described activity would not adversely affect EFH at the project location or in its vicinity. The Corps will make a final determination on the need to consult on EFH after receipt of comments from this public notice including any comments provided by the NMFS.

Historic Properties/Cultural Resources: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (54 U.S.C. 306108), requires Federal agencies to consult with the appropriate State and/or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer to take into account the effects of actions they undertake or permit on historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Corps’ preliminary review indicates to the best of our knowledge, the described activity is not located on property registered or eligible for registration in the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places. At this time the Corps is unaware of any cultural resource surveys of the project area. 

This notice has been provided to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), interested Native American Indian Tribes, and other interested parties. If you have information pertaining to cultural resources within the permit area, please provide this information to the Corps’ project manager identified at the end of this notice to assist in a complete evaluation of potential effects.

State and Local Authorizations:

City of Vancouver has issued an exemption from the requirement of obtaining a Shorelines Substantial Development permit for this project.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Hydraulic Project Approval

Public Hearing: Any person may request in writing within the comment period specified in this notice that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state with particularity the reasons for holding a public hearing.

Evaluation – Ecology: Ecology is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, Indian Tribes, State, and local agencies and officials; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this activity. Ecology will consider all comments to determine whether to certify or deny certification for the proposed project under Section 401 of the CWA.

Submitting Comments - Ecology: Any person desiring to present views on the project pertaining to a request for water quality certification under Section 401 of the CWA, may do so by submitting written comments to the following address: Washington State Department of Ecology, Attention: Federal Permit Coordinator, Post Office Box 47600, Olympia, Washington 98504-7600, or e-mail to ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov.

Evaluation – Corps: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors, which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of the proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to allow an alteration of a federally authorized project or to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

Submitting Comments: Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed project. Comments may be submitted by conventional mail or email. All comments received will be considered in determining whether authorizing the work would be contrary to the public interest. 

Either conventional mail or e-mail comments must include the Corps reference number as shown on page 1 and include the commenter’s name and address. In order to be accepted, e-mail comments must originate from the author’s e-mail account and must include on the subject line of the e-mail message the Corps reference number. All comments received will become part of the administrative record and are subject to public release under the Freedom of Information Act including any personally identifiable information such as names, phone numbers, and addresses.

Additional information about the proposed project may be obtained from the Corps Project Manager listed below. All comments, whether by conventional mail or email, must be received no later than the expiration date of this public notice to ensure consideration. Comments should be submitted to the following mailing address or email address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Branch
Brad Johnson 
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, Oregon 97208-2946
Email: Brad.A.Johnson2@usace.army.mil
Telephone: (503) 808-4383