MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District announced today that it has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed update of the Master Water Control Manual (Master Manual) for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin (ACT) in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
The Master Manual includes appendices prepared for individual projects in the ACT Basin and is the guide used by USACE to operate a system of five federal reservoir projects in the basin – Allatoona Dam and Lake, Carters Dam and Lake and Carters Reregulation Dam, Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam and R.E. “Bob” Woodruff Lake, Millers Ferry Lock and Dam and William “Bill” Dannelly Lake, and Claiborne Lock and Dam and Lake. Alabama Power Company (APC) regulates four non-federal projects – Weiss Dam and Lake, Logan Martin Dam and Lake, Neely Henry Dam and Lake, and R.L. Harris Dam and Lake-- in compliance with the projects’ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses and in accordance with USACE water control plans for flood risk management regulation and navigation support. The updated ACT Master Manual includes appendices prepared for two of the four APC projects for which USACE has authority for flood risk management and navigation support - Neely Henry and R.L. Harris. Water Control Manuals for the remaining two APC projects –Weiss and Logan Martin-- will be addressed at a later date.
“USACE has updated the water control plans and manuals for the ACT Basin in order to improve operations for authorized purposes to reflect changed conditions since the manuals were last developed,” said E. Patrick Robbins, Public Affairs Officer. The purpose and need for the updated Master Manual is to determine how operations of the federal projects in the ACT Basin should be adjusted to meet their authorized purposes, in light of current conditions and applicable law and to implement those operations through updated water control plans and manuals. The updated plans and manuals comply with existing USACE regulations and reflect operations under existing congressional authorizations, taking into account changes in basin hydrology and demands from years of growth and development new/rehabilitated structural features legal developments, and environmental issues.
USACE regulations also provide specific policy and guidance for inclusion of drought contingency plans as part of USACE’s overall water control management activities in the basin. To assure effectiveness, the drought plan incorporates a comprehensive, basin-wide approach that considers the interrelationship of USACE projects and APC projects and the proposed drought plan was developed in collaboration with APC.
USACE’s objectives for the Master Manual update are to develop a water control plan that meets the existing water resources needs of the basin, fulfills its responsibilities in operating for the authorized project purposes, and complies with all pertinent laws. The FEIS presents the results of USACE’s analysis of the environmental effects of the Proposed Action Alternative (PAA) that the USACE believes would most effectively accomplish these objectives.
USACE evaluated an array of potential water management alternatives during the Master Manual update process, resulting in the selection of the PAA. Additional information on the components of the PAA can be found at www.sam.usace.army.mil/Missions/PlanningEnvironmental/ACTMasterWaterControlManualUpdate/ACTDocumentLibrary.aspx. One alternative available to USACE would be to continue with current operations. This approach is termed the No Action Alternative (NAA). Neither the PAA nor the NAA would alter existing water supply storage allocations or operations for flood risk management, fish spawning, or fish passage.
The proposed action does not include the building, installing, or upgrading of any facilities. USACE will not modify any authorized project purpose via this action, although the extent to which some can be achieved may be affected. This action is limited to the way reservoir levels are managed and water is released from them.
USACE invites interested parties to review the FEIS and to submit written and/or electronic comments during the 30-day comment period following publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register.
The FEIS and appendices are available to the public for review in the following formats:
· Online as PDF documents at www.sam.usace.army.mil/Missions/PlanningEnvironmental/ACTMasterWaterControlManualUpdate/ACTDocumentLibrary.aspx
· As CD or bound copies when requested in writing to: Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Attn: PD-EI (ACT-FEIS), P.O. Box 2288, Mobile AL 36628
Comments may be submitted via any of the following:
· Online at www.sam.usace.army.mil/Missions/PlanningEnvironmental/ACTMasterWaterControlManualUpdate
· By emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
· By letter addressed to: Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Attn: PD-EI (ACT-FEIS), P.O. Box 2288, Mobile AL 36628
The FEIS presents the results of the USACE’s analysis of the environmental effects of the Proposed Action Alternative for the Master Manual. No sooner than 30 days after filing the final
EIS with USEPA and publication of the USEPA NOA for the FEIS in the Federal Register,
USACE will prepare a record of decision (ROD) which documents the final decision on the proposed action in regard to the update of the ACT Basin Master WCM and the individual project WCMs, summarize alternatives that were considered and relevant factors that were balanced in making the decision, and identify means that have been adopted to mitigate for adverse effects.