Lake City Sabal Trail pipe yard in cleared wetlands

Update 2016-08-10: Videos of all the speakers.

You are invited to come ask SRWMD why it hasn’t responded to WWALS’ request about the unregistered Sabal Trail Lake City apparently on fill in wetlands. Figure 12: Pipe Yard on top of former forested wetlands You can speak in person Tuesday morning, or write them a letter saying how Sabal Trail would affect you, no matter where you are elsewhere on the pipeline path, in the Floridan Aquifer, or for other reasons.

When: 9AM Tuesday August 9th 2016

Where: SRWMD District Headquarters,
9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060

Or write to: Noah Valenstein, Executive Director, SRWMD, NDV@srwmd.org.

Update 2016-08-07: You may also send a letter to all Board members of the SRWMD by writing to their senior Board assistant:
Lisa Cheshire, LMC@srwmd.org
Robin Lamm, Coordinator, rrl@srwmd.org

In the subject header to Lisa include the following info:
SRWMD Board Members:

Then cc here, too:
Noah Valenstein, NDV@srwmd.org

Sabal Trail is not on the agenda, but people can speak in public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Be sure to get there before 9AM to sign a public comment request form.

Sabal Trail, we know you are reading this, so please come on down and explain why you didn’t tell FERC about USACE’s qualifications about jurisdictional wetlands and why you didn’t do what you said back in 2014 you would do: get permission from FERC before using any pipe yard.

Below is the letter WWALS sent SRWMD last week, or see PDF.

-jsq

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!


WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.
the WATERKEEPER® Alliance Affiliate for the upper
Suwannee, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers
a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA  31632
850-290-2350
wwalswatershed@gmail.com
www.wwals.net

August 2, 2016

To: Mike Fuller
Resource Management
Title: Environmental Scientist II
MJF@srwmd.org

Re: Lake City Sabal Trail pipe yard in cleared wetlands

FERC Docket: CP15-17

USACE Application Numbers: SAS-2013-00942 (GA), SAJ-2013-03030 (FL), SAM-2014-00655-JSC (AL)

Dear Mr. Fuller,

The pipe yard north of Lake City has been confirmed as in use by Sabal Trail. It appears to be partly on cleared wetlands. Some of those wetlands may have been cleared before that usage. In addition, some of the wetlands appear to have been filled for deposition of Sabal Trail’s pipe. This is a request by WWALS for SRWMD to investigate these apparent wetlands violations.

As mentioned in the letter from WWALS to USACE of July 5th 2016,[1] the pipe yard is at 30.256148, -82.639781, in Columbia County, Florida, north of Lake City. It is on two parcels listed by the Columbia County Property Appraiser as 05-3S-17-04849-000 and 06-3S-17-04859-000 owned by ESTRADA EFRAIM & INDIANA, 8612 ROCKLAND DR, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32221-1617. The sign at the highway indicates A-A Auto Parts, 4700 US-441, Lake City, FL 32055. See also Figures 9 and 12 below.

The pipe yard is confirmed to be in use by Sabal Trail; see the correspondence between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Sabal Trail in the letter from WWALS to USACE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of July 29th 2016[2] in which USACE appears to need clarification of the extent of the wetlands on the site. In particular please note the email of July 19th 2016 from Brooke Hall of USACE, which says in part:

[1] "Re: Lake City Pipe Yard in jurisdictional wetlands," WWALS to USACE, July 5th 2016, http://wwals.com/blog/?p=21093, FERC accession number 20160708-5088, http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?document_id=14476441

[2] “Evidence of unregistered Sabal Trail Lake City Pipe Yard and Request of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. for rescinsion of FERC approval of pre-construction activities under CP15-17-000.” July 29th 2016, http://wwals.com/blog/?p=21326, FERC Accession Number 20160729-5198, http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?document_id=14481507

The wetlands on-site do not appear to be Jurisdictional and have not had any fill placed in them as of yet. Please refrain from placing any fill in the wetland area.  If you are planning on placing fill back there, then an Approved JD would have to be requested and coordinated with EPA and USACE HQ.  As is right now there is no violation therefore Enforcement will have no further action.

Note “do not appear” and “As is right now” which indicate USACE has not definitely determined the wetlands are not jurisdictional, nor that Sabal Trail pipes and other materials in that pipe yard are not sitting on already-filled wetlands.  Also note the acknowledgement that there are wetlands on the site: “Please refrain from placing any fill in the wetland area.”

According to “Environmental Resource Permit Applicant’s Handbook Volume I (General and Environmental)” 7.2.2(e)1. there should be a "certified surveyed delineation of the extent of wetlands and other surface waters" for this site. If there is such a delineation, why is USACE having any difficulty determining where the wetlands on the site are?

According to maps visible through google earth and the Columbia County property appraiser’s office, there were wetlands on the pipe yard site, and they appear to have been cleared, grubbed, and filled. Some of this construction may have happened years ago, and some may have occurred this year.

Please see Figures 2,3,4, and 5 for maps found in google earth for 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2005, which all clearly show a dense clump of trees on the western Columbia County parcel 06-3S-17-04859-000 with some on the eastern parcel 05-3S-17-04849-000. Those trees match the wetlands shown on the LiDAR map in the WWALS letter of July 5th 2016, also included in the present letter as Figure 1. Yet in the 2006 map in Figure 6 most of the trees are gone and there appears to be a wet depression in their place. This would appear to fit the definition in 2.0(a)18:

““Construction” means the creation, alteration, or abandonment of any project, including placement of fill, land clearing, earthwork, or the placement or removal of structures.  Cutting of trees or removal of vegetation is not considered land clearing, except where it involves stump removal, root raking, or grubbing.”

There is no sign of stumps, so there appears to have been stump removal, root raking, or grubbing.

Yet the trees in the earlier maps appear to be oaks or other wetlands species that fit the definition in 2.0(a)45:

““Forested wetlands” means those wetlands where the canopy coverage by trees with a diameter at breast height of greater than 4 inches is greater than 10 percent, as well as those areas required to be planted with tree species to establish or reestablish forested wetlands pursuant to a permit issued, or enforcement action taken, under rules adopted under Part IV of Chapter 373, F.S., or Sections 403.91 through 403.929, F.S. (1984 Supp.), as amended, and those areas where the canopy has been temporarily removed but are expected to revegetate to a forested wetland if use of the area would remain unchanged.”

Oaks are among the species in F.A.C. 62-340.450 Vegetative Index. Where is the determination of what species and how big were the trees on that wetland?

Where are the replanted trees? The center of the wetland appears to be standing water in the 2007 map in Figure 7, with no replanting, and still no replanting in the 2014 map in Figure 8.

The Columbia County Property Appraiser aerial map in Figure 9 is dated 2016, which makes it newer than any of the google earth maps. 2016 is also the same year, this year, in which the pipes were discovered on that property. Yet the Property Appraiser maps do not show the apparent fill on the wetlands on top of which much of the pipe is sitting; see July 5th letter and Figures 12 and 13 below. Did Sabal Trail or the owner of the property fill the wetlands to receive the pipe? If so, according to the correspondence from USACE and the ERP Handbook, there should have been a permit first.

In Figure 10 the Property Appraiser shows flood zone exactly where the wetlands used to be.

The wider view of the flood zone in Figure 11 shows the flood zone connects all the way to Falling Creek, which would seem to make it USACE jurisdictional wetlands.

Figure 12 is an aerial photograph taken June 21st 2016 showing Sabal Trail pipe on what appears to be leveled fill on the location of the former forested wetlands, in the area Columbia County marks as flood zone.

Figure 13 is an aerial photograph taken June 21st 2016 showing hardwoods still on the nearby connected wetlands in flood zones.

Historical aerial photography shows forested wetlands on the pipe yard site. They appear to have been cleared, de-stumped, and not replanted. Earlier this year there was no fill, but in aerial photographs taken June 21st 2016 it appears that the site of some of the former forested wetlands was filled and now the fill holds Sabal Trail pipe, still in what Columbia County marks as a flood zone. According to the Handbook, apparently that clearing and that filling should each have had a permit. According to the Handbook and USACE, the recent filling should have had a permit. And if the flood zone is correct that the wetlands on the pipe yard site connect all the way to Falling Creek, those would all appear to be jurisdictional wetlands.

Thank you in advance for investigating these questions. I would appreciate a prompt response.

For the rivers and the aquifer,
[/s]
John S. Quarterman, President

Appended: Map and aerial photograph figures

Attachments: "Re: Lake City Pipe Yard in jurisdictional wetlands," WWALS to USACE, July 5th 2016, http://wwals.com/blog/?p=21093, FERC accession number 20160708-5088, http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?document_id=14476441
 
“Evidence of unregistered Sabal Trail Lake City Pipe Yard and Request of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. for rescinsion of FERC approval of pre-construction activities under CP15-17-000.” July 29th 2016, http://wwals.com/blog/?p=21326, FERC Accession Number 20160729-5198, http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?document_id=14481507

WWALS Watershed Coalition advocates for conservation and stewardship
of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Upper Suwannee River watersheds
in south Georgia and north Florida
through awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities

Figure 1: LiDAR Topography, wetland locations, Sabal Trail pipe yard north of Lake City

Figure 1: LiDAR Topography, wetland locations, Sabal Trail pipe yard north of Lake City

Figure 2: 1994-02-13 Hardwoods in wetlands

Figure 2: 1994-02-13 Hardwoods in wetlands
Map: Google Earth

Figure 3: 1999-02-10 Still forested wetlands

Figure 3: 1999-02-10 Still forested wetlands
Map: Google Earth

Figure 4: 2004-12-30 Still forested wetlands

Figure 4: 2004-12-30 Still forested wetlands
Map: Google Earth

Figure 5: 2005-10-26 Still forested wetlands

Figure 5: 2005-10-26 Still forested wetlands
Map: Google Earth

Figure 6: 2006-08-30 Cleared and grubbed

Figure 6: 2006-08-30 Cleared and grubbed
Map: Google Earth

Figure 7: 2007-11-30 Standing water, no replanting

Figure 7: 2007-11-30 Standing water, no replanting
Map: Google Earth

Figure 8: 2014-05-05 Still no replanting

Figure 8: 2014-05-05 Still no replanting
Map: Google Earth

Figure 9: 2016 Base map and Columbia County Property Appraiser parcels

Figure 9: 2016 Base map and Columbia County Property Appraiser parcels
Map: Columbia County property appraiser, parcesl 06­3S­17­04859­000 and 05­3S­17­04849­000

Figure 10: Flood zone

Figure 10: Flood zone
Map: Columbia County property appraiser, parcesl 06­3S­17­04859­000 and 05­3S­17­04849­000

Figure 11: Columbia County Property Appraiser, connected to Falling Creek

Figure 11: Columbia County Property Appraiser, connected to Falling Creek
Map: Columbia County property appraiser, parcesl 06­3S­17­04859­000 and 05­3S­17­04849­000

Figure 12: Pipe Yard on top of former forested wetlands

Figure 12: Pipe Yard on top of former forested wetlands
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS June 21st 2016, flight courtesy Southwings

Figure 13: Pipe Yard and hardwoods on connected flood zone

Figure 13: Pipe Yard and hardwoods on connected flood zone
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS June 21st 2016, flight courtesy Southwings

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