CONCORD, Mass. – The Department of the Navy in Bath, Maine, is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with periodic maintenance dredging of portions of the Kennebec River federal navigation channel in Bath and Phippsburg, Maine.
The Department of the Navy is seeking a 10-year permit in order to conduct periodic maintenance dredging of portions of the Kennebec River federal navigation channel in order to facilitate the movement of U.S. naval ships constructed at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in and out of the river. Based on historic shoaling rates and current and projected Navy shipbuilding schedules at BIW, maintenance dredging is anticipated to be needed and performed at about three-year intervals. However, there may be occasions when, depending on ship movements and unanticipated shoaling, that dredging may occur more frequently. The first maintenance dredging event will occur during the winter of 2019/2020.
Up to 80,000 cubic yards of predominantly sand would be periodically dredged from two locations that are prone to shoaling and have been dredged repeatedly in the past by the Corps of Engineers. Up to 50,000 cubic yards will be dredged off Doubling Point, within a 45-acre area to a depth of -32 feet mean lower low water (mllw) and disposed of in-river, off Bluff Head.
At the river mouth, up to 20,000 cubic yards will be dredged within a 31-acre area to a depth of -29 feet mllw and disposed of in the vicinity of Jackknife Ledge. Actual quantities may vary depending on the frequency and degree of shoaling. The in-river disposal site is located just south of Bluff Head in about 95-100 feet of water. The Jackknife Ledge site is located about 0.4 nautical mile south of Jackknife Ledge and in about 40-50 feet of water. Both disposal sites have been used repeatedly for similar dredging conducted by the Corps of Engineers and at the Bluff Head site, also by Bath Iron Works. Dredging would be conducted by hopper dredge and/or mechanical dredge.
Dredging and disposal activities will impact Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for a variety of species and their various life stages. The habitat consists of subtidal river or ocean bottom composed primarily of sand and some silt. Impacts to these species include turbidity and benthic disturbance; however, these impacts have been found to be generally minimal and of short duration. The Department of the Navy has initiated consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Although the Department of the Navy has taken the lead in this consultation, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the NMFS regarding EFH is being conducted and will be addressed in the environmental documentation.
The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by the Department of the Navy, can be viewed on the Corps website at https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.
Public comments on this work proposed by the Department of the Navy (file # NAE-2019-01433) should be forwarded no later than Aug. 22, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, Maine Project Office (ATTN: Jay Clement), 442 Civic Center Drive, Suite 350, Augusta, Maine, 04330. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Jay Clement at 207-623-8367, ext. 1 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.