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Water Quality Certification - Public Comments
about Proposed Dredging Due April 11

by US Army Corps of Engineers
Press Release, March 2013

(Steve Hanks) A pair of Tidewater barges and a tug head to Portland. The economics of barging grain from Lewiston have been challenged. In addition to the current public comment period that began Dec. 21 and ends March 26 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lower Snake River Programmatic Sediment Management Plan (PSMP) draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - (see below), the public has two more opportunities to comment on water quality aspects of a proposed dredging action in the lower Snake River. Comments regarding Clean Water Act (CWA) "Section 404" requirements for a proposed immediate need action of dredging plus in-water disposal of dredged materials are due to the Corps' Walla Walla District and/or the Washington Dept. of Ecology no later than April 11, 2013.

These two additional types of comments regarding proposed dredging will be considered separately by the Corps and Washington Dept. of Ecology.

First, the Corps invites public comments on CWA "Section 404" requirements for an immediate need action of dredging plus in-water disposal of dredged materials. 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 Clean Water Act 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.

Second, the public 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.

See links at right for 1) a Corps Public Notice containing details of Clean Water Act requirements and 2) Notice of Application to Washington Department of Ecology.

The Corps proposes to perform maintenance dredging activities at three locations in the Lower Granite reservoir plus one location , just downstream of Ice Harbor Dam in the McNary reservoir. All dredged materials are proposed to be disposed in-water at Snake River mile 116, just upstream of Knoxway Canyon and 23 miles downstream of Clarkston.

Public comments to the Corps about Section 404 requirements regarding the proposed dredging and in-water disposal of dredged materials are due no later than April 11, 2013. Comments may be emailed to or sent via U.S. Mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, PSMP/EIS, ATTN: Sandra Shelin, CENWW-PM-PD-EC, 201 N. 3rd Avenue, Walla Walla, WA 99362-1876. U.S. Mail comments must be postmarked by April 11.

Public comments to the Washington Dept. of Ecology about Section 401 water quality certification are also due no later than April 11, 2013. Comments may be emailed to or sent via U.S. Mail to Washington Department of Ecology, ATTN: Federal Permit Coordinator - SEA Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. U.S. Mail comments must be postmarked by April 11.

Any person who has an interest that may be affected by the disposal of this dredged material may also request the Corps of Engineers have a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the same Corps address as above no later than April 11 and must clearly set forth the interest that may be affected and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.

Dredging is one of several tools outlined in the PSMP EIS for managing lower Snake River problem sediment. It 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. Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - Public comments about EIS and PSMP due March 26

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Walla Walla District proposes to adopt and implement a Programmatic Sediment Management Plan (PSMP) for managing sediment within the lower Snake River system to meet the authorized project purposes that are affected by sediment deposition. These purposes are commercial navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation and mitigation. The Corps has prepared a Draft PSMP Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluates several management strategies for a long term plan to manage sediment accumulation that affects authorized purposes of the four dams and reservoirs (Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite) constructed by the Corps on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington and north central Idaho.

The Corps has identified Alternative 7, Comprehensive (Full System and Sediment Management Measures) as its preferred alternative. This alternative includes dredging and dredged material management along with other sediment and system management measures, and provides the Corps with a complete toolbox for addressing sediment that interferes with the authorized purposes of the dams and reservoirs.

The draft EIS also addresses an immediate need action, consistent with the Plan, to reestablish the navigation channel at four locations: Ice Harbor Lock and Dam downstream navigation lock approach, Federal channel at the Snake/Clearwater Rivers confluence, Port of Clarkston, and Port of Lewiston. The Corps proposes to dredge these areas and use the dredged material to create shallow-water habitat for juvenile salmon.

The Corps invites your comments on the Draft Lower Snake River Programmatic Sediment Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (PSMP/EIS). The draft PSMP/EIS public comment period started on December 21, 2012, (date of publication in the Federal Register) and will run through March 26, 2013. Comments must be e-mailed or postmarked no later than March 26, 2013 to be considered. You must submit comments via e-mail to or mail comments to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, PSMP/EIS, Attention: Sandy Shelin, CENWW-PM-PD-EC, 201 North Third Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington 99362-1876.

The draft PSMP/EIS is available through several means. The full document is available in electronic form through the links on the right side of this page.

You may also request a paper copy or compact disc (CD) by sending an e-mail to the address above, by writing to the Corps at the address above, or by calling Ms. Sandy Shelin, Environmental Coordinator, at 509-527-7265.

The Corps held an open house and public information meeting on the draft PSMP/EIS in Lewiston, Wash., on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

If you have questions about this draft PSMP/EIS, please contact Ms. Shelin as above or Mr. Richard Turner, Project Manager, at 509-527-7625.

Commodity Tonnage traveling through the Columbia/Snake River 1990 - 2010

Related Pages:
Electric Power Foregone to Lock Flush by Oregon Natural Resource Council, Restoring the Lower Snake River
Energy Intensities of Freight: Barge, Truck and Railroad US Department of Energy, Transportation Energy Data Book
Shipping Wheat: Truck or Barge? by Ken Casavant, Transportation Report 1995
Snake River Freight by Army Corps of Engineers, Government Report
Snake River Commodity Tonnage by Army Corps of Engineers, Data from 1990-2010
Lewiston Container Shipping by Port of Lewiston, Fact Sheet, 1997
Montana Grain on Lower Snake River by Montana Wheat & Barley, Data from 1985-2001
Snake River Barge Rates by Tidewater Barge Lines, Rate Schedule

US Army Corps of Engineers
Water Quality Certification - Public Comments about Proposed Dredging Due April 11
Press Release, March 2013

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