Willoughby Navigation Channel Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment

Published Aug. 25, 2023
Expiration date: 9/25/2023

August 25, 2023


The USACE-Norfolk District has prepared a draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment to assess the potential impacts for work described below:

LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The Willoughby Navigation Channel (Willoughby Channel) is within the Willoughby Bay tidal estuary and tributary of Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia. The Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA) is located in Portsmouth, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The Proposed Action consists of maintenance dredging the entrance channel of the Willoughby Channel to a maximum depth of -14 ft MLLW. The entrance channel is 300 feet (ft) wide, extending into Willoughby Bay and tapering to 200 ft wide and 1.5 miles long from deep water in Hampton Roads to a point opposite the extreme tip of Willoughby Spit. These dredging depths account for up to 4 feet of paid and non-paid overdepth consistent with the USACE policy for paid allowable overdepth (i.e., 2 feet) and federal technical guidance for non-pay allowable overdepth for mechanical dredging (i.e., 2 feet). Dredging will be conducted by a mechanical dredge and/or Government-owned special purpose dredges (i.e., Currituck and Murden) with dredged material to be disposed of at the CIDMMA. Dredged material may be hydraulically conveyed (e.g., pumped) via pipeline from the scow to the upland containment cells at CIDMMA, or disposed by a bottom-dump barge/scow into the Craney Island Rehandling Basin. Future maintenance cycles are estimated to occur every five to ten years with an estimated volume of 120,000 cy of maintenance material for each cycle. Future maintenance cycles are also projected to be disposed of at the CIDMMA.

SCOPE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT: Under the requirements of Section 102 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this proposed project constitutes a major federal action, and an SEA is therefore required. This SEA has been prepared pursuant to NEPA and its implementing regulations.

The purpose of this SEA is to evaluate the direct and indirect impacts associated with the placement of dredged material at the CIDMMA. The scope of dredging for the Willoughby Channel has not changed since the 1993 EA. This SEA will update the assessment of the impacts related to dredged material placement at the CIDMMA, which was not included in the original EA. 

The draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment is being coordinated with the following agencies:

• City of Norfolk
• Delaware Nation, Oklahoma
• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
• Nansemond Indian Nation
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
• NOAA - National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
• Pamunkey Indian Tribe
• Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR)
• Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ)
• Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR)
• Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR)
• Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
• Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)

ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTATION: The environmental impacts of the Willoughby Channel maintenance dredging have been evaluated in NEPA and regulatory documents including the Final Environmental Assessment dated November 1993 (See Appendix) and the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment that is detailed in this public notice. These documents will conclude the environmental documentation for the maintenance dredging of the Willoughby Channel and dredged material placement at the CIDMMA.

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment should be by email (Chris.w.turner@usace.army.mil) or in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WR-OT (Turner), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on September 25, 2023.

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project, contact Chris Turner at Chris.w.turner@usace.army.mil or call 757-201-7049.