May 28, 2024

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issue public notice for dredging

Operation and Maintenance Dredging and Dredged Sediment Placement— Robert C. Byrd and Racine Locks and Dams, Gallia and Meigs County, Ohio

This Public Notice has been prepared pursuant to Section 404(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  It is being administered in conformance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulation, “Practice and Procedure: Final Rule for Operation and Maintenance of Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects involving the Discharge of Dredged Materials into Waters of the United States or Ocean Waters,” 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 337.1.  The purpose of this Public Notice is to specify what dredged or fill materials will be discharged into waters of the United States by implementation of the proposed action, advise all interested parties of the proposed project, and provide an opportunity to submit comments, or request a public hearing.

Two of the USACE’s primary missions are to maintain navigation channels and reduce flood impacts along the Inland Marine Transportation System.  The River and Harbor Act of 1910 mandates the USACE to maintain navigable channel depths on the Ohio River and its tributaries to accommodate transportation demands.  Maintenance dredging is required at various locations within the Huntington District’s (District) boundaries.  The need for dredging typically arises in the approach areas to the lock and dam projects, as well as several naturally occurring sediment bars, tributary confluences, harbors, and boat ramps.

In efforts to maintain a safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally sound waterborne transportation system for the movement of commerce, National Security, and recreation, USACE must perform channel maintenance dredging in order to sustain sufficient channel width and depth.  The USACE, Huntington District anticipates the need to dredge the government harbors, water intakes, and the federal navigation channels upstream of the lock structures at Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam (R.C. Byrd) and Racine Locks and Dam (Racine). The dredged material from R.C. Byrd will be placed in the USACE-operated disposal area along the right descending bank within the restricted area above the dam between approximate Ohio River Mile (ORM) 278.5 and 279.1.  The dredged material from Racine will be placed in the USACE-operated disposal area along the right descending bank just above the dam at approximate ORM 237.3.  The projects will involve the removal of an estimated 30,000 cubic yards of sediment at R.C. Byrd and 20,000 cubic yards of sediment at Racine (volumes subject to change from year to year based on annual sediment deposition). 

Dredging operations at these locations are scheduled to be performed between June 30 and March 15 of the following year for the life of the water quality permit on an as needed basis based on sediment deposition.  Annual hydrographic surveys will be performed by the Huntington district at each site to determine dredging needs.

A contractor of the federal government will accomplish the dredging operation.  Dredging will involve the removal of sediments that have accumulated around the lock intakes, in the government harbors and/or the federal navigation channels since the previous maintenance dredging activity.  Dredging will be accomplished by use of a hydraulic suction dredge or mechanical clamshell dredge.  If a hydraulic suction dredge is used, the sediment will be piped directly to the disposal area.  If a mechanical clamshell dredge is used, the sediment will be placed in either dump scow or conventional barges and transported to the disposal site for offloading.

The sediment to be dredged from these locations consist of approximately 30% sand and 70% silt.  To ensure that dredge material disposal does not decrease water quality by resuspension or release of contaminants in sediment, the Huntington District follows the Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Discharge in Waters of the U.S. – Testing Manual from the Inland Testing Manual (1998) and a dredging sediment analysis based on the Tier I Evaluation of the Inland Testing Manual per the request of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.  The dredging sediment analysis includes collecting and analyzing sediment samples from maintenance dredging locations when disposal sites in the State of Ohio jurisdictional waters are utilized for disposal of dredged material.

Pursuant to Section 401 of the CWA, a water quality certification (WQC), or waiver of WQC, from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is required for the discharge of dredged materials in State of Ohio jurisdictional waters.  Therefore, a copy of this Public Notice has been provided to OEPA requesting WQC (or waiver thereof) for this discharge.

There are no listed historic properties or properties determined as being eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places that will be affected by this project.

The USACE has determined that the proposed project lies within range of the endangered Clubshell, Snuffbox, Fanshell, Northern Riffleshell, Pink Mucket and Sheepnose mussels.  However, resource agencies including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and West Virginia Department of Natural Resources have discussed dredge disposal operations above the navigation structures with the District and determined that habitat is likely unsuitable for significant mussel resources.  Through coordination with these resource agencies the District has prioritized additional areas for survey instead of these above dam disposal sites.  The future need for mussel surveys can be revisited during annual partnering meetings with the aforementioned resource agencies.

The decision whether to perform dredging will be based on channel conditions.  The District has evaluated the probable impact, including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest, of the proposed maintenance dredging.  The decision reflects the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefit which is reasonably expected to accrue from the proposal has been balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All factors which may be relevant to the proposal have been considered including the cumulative factors 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, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

This activity is being coordinated with the following agencies, as well as other appropriate federal, state, and local agencies and organizations:

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

Ohio Historic Preservation Office

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Any interested parties and/or agencies desiring to express their views concerning these proposed discharges of dredged material may do so by filing their comments, in writing, no later than 30 days from the date of this notice.  Any person who has an interest which may be affected by these discharges of dredged material may request a public hearing.  The request must be submitted in writing to the undersigned within 30 days of the date of this Public Notice.  The request must clearly set forth the interest which may be affected, and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.

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Interested parties are encouraged to contact the USACE with their comments regarding the proposed discharges of the R.C. Byrd or Racine dredged sediment.  Please review this Public Notice and send your comments in writing within 30 days to the following email address:

            [email protected]

Or via regular mail to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Huntington District
502 Eighth Street
Huntington, WV 25701-2070
ATTN: Public Affairs Office