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-2020-321

Published Oct. 19, 2020
Expiration date: 11/13/2020

PUBLIC NOTICE
Application for Permit

Issue Date: October 14, 2020
Expiration Date: November 13, 2020
US Army Corps of Engineers No: NWP-2020-321
Oregon Department of State Lands No: 62822-RF

30-Day Notice

Interested parties are hereby notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit for certain work in waters of the United States, as described below and shown on the attached plans. The Corps is soliciting comments on the proposed work.

Applicant: PacifiCorp
Attention: Mr. John Aniello
825 NE Multnomah Blvd., Ste. 1700
Portland, Oregon 97232
Email: John.aniello@pacificorp.com
Telephone: (503) 813-6030

Location: The project site is located along a combined 22.4 mile corridor beginning with an approximate 17.5-mile long 115 kilovolt (kV) power line corridor extending from the existing Grants Pass Substation near Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon to the proposed 500/230 kV Sams Valley Substation near Gold Hill, Jackson County, Oregon. From there additional work would continue for an additional 4.9 miles along the existing Meridian Transmission Line right of way terminating at the existing Whetstone Substation near White City, Jackson County, Oregon. Following existing transmission line corridors, the project would cross lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, land within the limits of the City of Rogue River, Oregon and private lands. The new substation would be constructed near the intersection of Highway 238 and Tresham Lane. The power transmission line improvements would occur in Sections 5, 14 and 15, Township 36 South, Range 2 West. The Sams Valley substation would be constructed in Section 4, Township 36 South, Range 3 West. The project begins at Latitude 42.446566° North, Longitude -123.277833° West and ends at Latitude 42.432016° North, Longitude -122.909626° West.

Waterway:  Three wetlands totaling 3.84 acres in size were delineated at the proposed Sams Valley substation. An additional 1.16 acre of wetlands were delineated along the approximate 17.5-mile route of the powerline improvements. The wetland and waters boundaries shown on the project drawings have not yet been verified by the Corps. If the Corps determines the boundaries of the wetland/waters are substantially inaccurate a new public notice may be published.

Project Purpose: The applicant’s stated purpose is to increase capacity and improve system reliability in the southern Oregon to Crescent City, California area through the construction of a new 500 kV/230kV substation and two segments of transmission line improvements. 

Project Description: The proposed PacifiCorp project is composed of four elements: the construction, operation and maintenance of a new Sams Valley 500/230-kilovolt (kV) substation; the replacement of electrical conductors (reconductoring) along a 4.9 mile section of existing transmission line along the Sams Valley-Meridian Transmission Line; the upgrade of transmission capacity via the installation of a new 230/115 kV transmission line within the existing Grants Pass-Lone Pine transmission line right of way (ROW) which would become the Grants Pass-Sams Valley (GP-SV) transmission line; and the removal of the existing 115kV line within the Grants Pass-Lone Pine ROW. PacifiCorp would initiate transmission line construction beginning at the existing Grants Pass Substation in Josephine County, through 17.5 miles of utility line right-of-way to the proposed 500/230-kilovolt (kV) Sams Valley substation location. The reconductoring portion of the project would occur approximately 10 miles northwest of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon and continue for approximately 4.9 miles southeast along the existing Sams Valley-Meridian Transmission line and end at the existing Whetstone substation in Jackson County. The transmission line projects are within existing PacifiCorp rights-of-way and the new substation would occur entirely on PacifiCorp property. 

Sams Valley Substation Construction: When completed, the substation would consist of a fenced yard, transformers and switches. Approximately 21.5 acres of the 29.8-acre property would be cleared of vegetation, filled and graded and finished with insulating rock. The applicant would discharge a combined 73,410 cubic yards of fill of which 31,029 cy would occur within 3.84 acres of wetland. Individual wetlands are 0.01 acre (Wetland A), 3.74 acre (Wetland B) and 0.09 acre (Wetland C). Permanent access to the substation would be near the intersection of Tresham Lane and Highway 234.

17.5 Mile Transmission Line Decommissioning: Prior to construction of the Grants Pass-Sams Valley (GP-SV) 230/115 kV transmission line, the existing 115 kV line within the Grants Pass-Lone Pine right of way would be taken out of service and demolished in sections. The old structures, line and conductor would be removed and disposed of in an upland location. Old concrete foundations would be removed to approximately two to three feet below grade and filled with soil or gravel. No waters of the United States would be impacted by this component of the project.
 
17.5 Mile Transmission Line Improvements: The proposed GP-SV transmission line would create a new 230/115 kV double circuit line on new 230 kV structures within the ROW identified above. The new GP-SV 230 kV line, which would occur within the existing 40 to 100-foot wide right of way (ROW), may require expansion of the ROW an additional 35 feet. However, the original Grants Pass - Lone Pine centerline would be retained to the extent possible to avoid impacts to existing legal clearances or sensitive resources. Temporary impacts to 0.056 acre of wetlands associated with access, structure improvements and removals and with line stringing would occur between Mile Post (MP) 12.3 and 12.4. Individual wetlands affected are 0.032 acre (WT-18), 0.017 acre (WT-19), and 0.007 acre (WT-20). The applicant would deploy temporary protective mats to protect wetlands from direct impacts associated with access and construction activities. 

Up to 120 new double circuit structures would be installed within the GP-SV line ROW. The new double circuit would be taller and larger than existing structures to support additional weight and required clearances and would remain within ten feet of any structure’s original location where possible. Suspended power line span lengths between structures would be from 300 to 2,500 feet.

4.9 Mile Reconductoring Installation: Reconductoring is described as the replacement of existing electrical conductors with new conductors and any necessary structure reinforcement or replacements. This work between the Sams Valley Substation and the Whetstone Substation within the Sams Valley-Meridian transmission ROW would consist of temporary work areas for access, structure work, electrical line pulling and tensioning. No grading or permanent fill in wetlands would be required. A total of 1.107 acre of wetlands in five locations between MP 21.6 and MP 22 would be temporarily impacted during site access, line pulling and tensioning activities. Individual wetlands are 0.001 acre (WT-7), 0.018 (WT-8), 0.875 (WT-22), 0.003 acre (WT-23) and 0.21 acre (WT-24). Disturbance to WT-22 and WT-24 would be limited to surface vegetation disturbance. Wetland mats would be placed over the remaining wetlands. The applicant would remove the mats at the conclusion of the project work. 

Construction of the project would begin in 2022 in Josephine County. The transmission line structures and substation would generally be constructed with standard equipment. The use of existing access roads to each transmission line structure would be required for construction and future operation and maintenance activities. Access roads would initiate from lands owned by Josephine and Jackson counties and the Bureau of Land Management. There would be no new temporary or permanent roads constructed for the transmission line facilities, however, the applicant would improve 25.1 miles of existing road. The applicant would widen existing eight foot wide roads to 14 foot widths and an additional 5.5 feet of width on curves to allow for the safe passage of heavy construction equipment with potential maximum road widths of 25 feet. Additional improvements which may remain after construction could include removal of vegetation, blading, placement of surface aggregate, installation of water bars and drain dips to manage stormwater runoff. There would be no permanent impacts to wetlands and no ground disturbing activities from any of the 25.1 miles of road improvements identified. The applicant would utilize 23.2 miles of additional existing multi-use roads. 

Project construction activities would be facilitated by helicopter use for the delivery of construction personnel, equipment and materials as well as for power line stringing operations. This would include stringing operations over intermittent and perennial waterbodies which would not result in impacts to those aquatic features.

The applicant has minimized impacts by co-locating the proposed improvement within existing ROW and within ten feet of structures to be replaced where possible. No new access roads are proposed. Where construction equipment is to occur within wetlands, construction mats would cover the ground surface to prevent rutting and protect vegetation. Impacts are further minimized by development of water bars on existing roadways and by construction of stormwater control features at the new substation. 
 
Mitigation: The applicant has purchased four-acre credits of compensatory wetland mitigation from the Rogue Valley Mitigation Bank. The Corps will determine the type and amount of compensatory mitigation necessary to offset environmental losses from the proposed project.

Drawings: Thirty-one (31) drawings are attached and labeled Corps No. NWP-2020-321. 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: Public notices for the project have been issued in the past. However, the project applications were withdrawn. Previous notices were issued January 31, 2018 under Project No. NWP-2015-436 and July 26, 2016 under Project No. 2015-436. Because this version of the project is substantively different, the Corps determined issuance of a new public notice is appropriate. If authorized, the construction is expected to be completed within two years and maintenance work within the scope of the authorization would occur as needed. 

Authority: The proposed project will be evaluated under the following:
Section 404, Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344), for discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.

Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines: The described discharge will be evaluated for compliance with guidelines promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under authority of Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act. The 404(b)(1) Guidelines are the substantive criteria used in evaluating discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. The Corps will evaluate the fill material source (i.e., borrow site) prior to finalizing a permit decision.

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. Attached is the state's notice for a water quality certification.

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’ preliminary review indicates the described activity may affect an endangered or threatened species or designated critical habitat. The Corps will initiate consultation under Section 7 of the ESA. The Corps will complete the required consultation prior to finalizing a permit decision.

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’ 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 an historic properties investigation has been conducted within the permit area. No sites determined eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places were found to exist within the permit area.

This notice has been provided to the State Historic Preservation Office (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: The applicant will be applying for the following additional governmental authorizations for the project: 1200-C permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The applicant has applied for approval from the Department of State Lands for fill and removal of wetlands. The applicant has applied for approval from Bureau of Land Management for access through its managed lands.

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: 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 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
Anita Andazola,
Eugene Field Office
211 E. 7th Avenue, Suite 105
Eugene, Oregon 97401-2763
Email: anita.m.andazola@usace.army.mil
Telephone: (541) 465-6894

PUBLIC NOTICE
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
Water Quality 401 Certification

Notice Issued: October 14, 2020
Written Comments Due: November 13, 2020

Corps of Engineers No: NWP-2020-321
Oregon Department of State Lands No: 62822-RF

WHO IS THE APPLICANT: PacifiCorp

LOCATION OF CERTIFICATION ACTIVITY: See attached U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public notice.

WHAT IS PROPOSED: See attached U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public notice on the proposed project.

NEED FOR CERTIFICATION: Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act requires applicants for Federal permits or licenses to provide the Federal agency a water quality certification from the State of Oregon if the proposed activity may result in a discharge to waters of the state.

DESCRIPTION OF DISCHARGES: See attached U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public notice on the proposed project.

WHERE TO FIND DOCUMENTS: Documents and materials related to water quality issues as a result of the proposal are available for examination and copying at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 401 Water Quality Permit Coordinator, Northwest Region, 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, Oregon 97232. Other project materials are available by contacting the Corps per the attached public notice.

Scheduling an appointment will ensure that water quality documents are readily accessible during your visit. To schedule an appointment please call DEQ Water Quality at Northwest Region at (503) 229-5623.

Any questions on the water quality certification process may be addressed to the 401 Permit Coordinator at (503) 229-5623 or toll free within Oregon at (800) 452-4011. People with hearing impairments may call the Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service at (800) 735-2900.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
Public Hearing: Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 340-48-0032 (2) states that “The Corps provides public notice of and opportunity to comment on the applications, including the application for certification, provided that the department (DEQ), in its discretion, may provide additional opportunity for public comment, including public hearing.” 

Written comments: Written comments on project elements related to water quality must be received at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality by 5 p.m. on the date specified in the upper right section on page one of this notice. Written comments may be emailed or mailed as described below: 

Email - 401publiccomments@deq.state.or.us

Mail - Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Northwest Region
700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600
Portland, Oregon 97232      
Attn: 401 Water Quality Permit Coordinator 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: DEQ will review and consider all comments received during the public comment period. Following this review, certification of the proposal may be issued as proposed, issued with conditions, or denied. You will be notified of DEQ's final decision if you submit comments during the comment period. Otherwise, if you wish to receive notification, please call or write DEQ at the above address.

ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION: DEQ can provide documents in an alternate format or in a language other than English upon request. Call DEQ at (800) 452-4011 or email deqinfo@deq.state.or.us.