Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environment Impact Report (DEIS/DEIR) for a Permit Application for the Proposed Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project at the Salton Sea, in Riverside and Imperial Counties, CA
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in conjunction with the California Natural Resources Agency, is preparing an EIS/EIR for the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) Project. The Corps is considering the Natural Resources Agency's application for a Department of the Army permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act to construct habitat configured in a series of interconnected shallow ponds within the current footprint of the Salton Sea. Preliminary evaluations of potential siting areas indicate that ponds could be constructed at either the north or south ends of the Salton Sea, or in both areas. The SCH Project would be created as the Sea recedes by constructing dikes below the elevation of -228 feet mean sea level (msl) using material excavated from the sea bed. Rivers, which have better water quality than agricultural drain water, would provide the source of water for the ponds. The Project size at total build-out is currently expected to be approximately 2,400 acres, which may be constructed over a period of several years depending on land availability and cost. The final project size may vary depending on the outcome of the alternatives development process. Habitat ponds would vary in size, with several ponds constructed in each phase depending on land availability. Habitat would continue to be constructed in phases in subsequent years as the Sea recedes until the targeted acreage of habitat was constructed. The habitat would be designed with varying ranges of salinity in order to maximize biological productivity and minimize adverse effects associated with water quality. It is anticipated that the SCH Project would begin construction in late 2011 or early 2012.