Published April 14, 2014
Expiration date: 5/14/2014


The district commander has received a joint application for federal and state permits as described below:

ATTN: CDR Nancy Ash Hann
439 West York Street
Norfolk, Va. 23510

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in the Elizabeth River, a tributary to Hampton Roads, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Operations Center – Atlantic (NOAA MOC-A), at 439 West York Street, in Norfolk, Va.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to dredge the approach and berthing areas along NOAA MOC-A’s shoreline to provide safe navigation for current and future vessel support. Approximately nine NOAA ships on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico and other transitioning vessels use this center. This area was previously dredged to depths of -10 and -20 feet under a Corps permit issued in July 1960, and extended until December 1966.

Dredging was last performed in 1961. Approximately 85,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from an 8.4-acre area along an existing bulkhead, towards the edge of the Federal Project Channel (Norfolk Harbor Channel). The design toe of the approach and berth incorporates an area of about 292,000 square feet (6.7 acres) and the estimated top cut is approximately 366,400 square feet (8.40 acres). Approximately 5,000 cubic yards is maintenance material (to reach previously permitted depths of -20 feet MLW), while about 80,000 cubic yards is considered new work dredging.

The proposed project depth is a maximum of -27 feet at mean low water (MLW), including -2 feet for allowable over-depth and advance maintenance. The material will be dredged either hydraulically and pumped directly into the upper cells of the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA), or mechanically dredged, placed in scows, barged to Craney Island and deposited in the Craney Island Rehandling Basin (CIRB).

All dredging will occur in subaqueous bottom, with existing depths ranging from approximately -10 to -20 feet at MLW. No vegetated wetlands or intertidal areas will be impacted by the project as proposed. An additional 15,000 cy of maintenance dredging is requested for the next 10 years.

The applicant states that dredging of the NOAA MOC-A approach and berthing area to maintain a depth of -25 feet MLLW is necessary for adequate draft and under keel clearance for current and future vessel support. The maintained depth of -25 feet MLLW is necessary for NOAA MOC-A to be able to support several NOAA vessels that draft 21 feet and/or have valuable scientific instruments mounted to the hulls. In addition, divers need adequate clearance to be able to perform visual inspections of vessels’ propellers, sea water intakes, and bow thrusters for wear and damage.  Divers may also be required to replace electronic equipment attached to the vessels, such as transducers.

No mitigation is proposed, however, no special aquatic sites, including wetlands, will be impacted by the project.

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. Project drawings are attached.

AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use classification, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).

The Army Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above.

Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The district commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

Preliminary review indicates that:  (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) no species of fish, wildlife, or plant (or their critical habitat) listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205) will be affected. After conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, no listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884, as amended) will be affected. Based on this no-effect determination, no further coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service is required.

In a letter dated Dec. 28, 2012, NOAA Fisheries Service stated that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect any listed species under National Marine Fisheries Service jurisdiction, and no further coordination with Fish and Wildlife Service is required due to a no-effect determination; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal.

In a letter dated Oct. 16, 2012, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources stated that the project would have No Adverse Effect on the historic district called “Battle of the Ironclads” (DHR ID#114-5471). Additional information might change any of these findings.

For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Tidewater, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). We have not received a certification from the applicant prior to publication of this public notice. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found here: For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail: or

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Hampton Roads contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the egg, larvae, juvenile, and/or adult life stages of 11 species including; windowpane flounder (Scopthalmus aquosus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), summer flounder (Paralicthys dentatus), black sea bass (Centropristus striata), king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), red drum (Sciaenops occelatus), dusky shark (Charcharinus obscurus) and sandbar shark (Charcharinus plumbeus).

The habitat, which this project would affect, consists of subaqueous bottom. The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above. Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it will not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH and therefore expanded EFH consultation is not required. In an e-mail dated Jan. 3, 2013, NOAA Fisheries Service concurred with a determination that the proposed dredging would not substantially affect essential fish habitat (EFH) and stated that a time-of-year restriction to protect anadromous fish is not warranted.

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Army Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Va.  23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on May 14, 2014.

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.

Questions about this project or the permit process, contact Audrey Cotnoir at 757-549-8819 or by email at