15 October 2014

Corps Comments on Availability of Public Works Restoration Plan

This the email response received 14 October 2014 from Martha S. Chieply of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulatory office in downtown Omaha, in regards to my comments regarding the availability of the wetland restoration plan proposed for the extent of wetlands filled — without a required permit — by the Omaha Public Works department.

"Below is an update regarding the violation that you reported near Carter Lake, Iowa, and a brief overview of our processes for investigating and resolving alleged violations, and then notifying the public of the outcome.

"The Nebraska Regulatory Office received your report of a Clean Water Act violation near Carter Lake on April 17, 2014. The Nebraska State Office confirmed that approximately .066 acres of wetlands had been impacted. An evaluation of the violation and determination of its outcome has not been finalized at this time, as we are working with the responsible party to resolve the violation.

"Typically, when coordinating with the responsible party, the Omaha District's state regulatory office initially will seek ways to restore the wetlands/waters of the United States that have been impacted. Depending on the severity of the violation, as well as the type of aquatic resource impacted, the Omaha District may seek assistance from resource agencies as we assess the requirements for suitable restoration or mitigation of the aquatic resource impacts, if necessary. The Commander of the Omaha District has discretionary authority to pursue violations and/or conduct more rigorous reviews, to include requesting public input, of activities where potential adverse effects on the aquatic environment are more than minimal or where there are other concerns in the public interest.

"The circumstances of every violation must be considered on a case by case basis. While it may be a relevant consideration as to whether or not the impacted property is publicly held, or if the unauthorized activities may have been conducted by a public entity, it does not necessitate public notification. There are instances where the impacts to wetlands/waters of the United States do occur on public lands. However, the protection of wetlands and regulated waters of the United States always are of public interest and value, wherever they are located. Public notification of violations and the public release of pre-decisional information typically is not made unless the potential adverse effects on the aquatic environment are more than minimal.

"Therefore, due to the ongoing coordination efforts and the facts of the case, we are not able to release the details surrounding the violation near Carter Lake at this time. Once our evaluation is finalized, interested persons may request information from the Omaha District, under the Freedom of Information Act."

Note: One acre equals 43,560 square feet, so 0.066 of an acre equals about 2874.96 square feet.