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U.S. ARMY CORPS
Los Angeles District
WHITTER NARROWS RECREATION AREA- UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK /UST REMOVAL WHITTIER NARROWS FLOOD CONTROL BASIN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Draft ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
for proposed activities on Corps-managed Federal land
Whittier Narrows Recreation Area- Underground Storage Tank (UST) Removal
Proposed Implementation Date: Spring 2013
Proponent: County of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation Location: Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area in the Whittier Narrows Flood
Control Basin (750 South Santa Anita Avenue)
Whittier Narrows Flood Control Basin Los Angeles County
South El Monte, California
Los Angeles District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 532711
Los Angeles, California 90053-2325
NOTICE OF PREPARATION ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
This is to inform the general public that the United States Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District (Corps) has preliminarily determined that the following project proposal could be adequately evaluated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA).
Proposal Title DRAFT PROGRAMMATIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
for Removal of an Underground Storage Tank (/UST) on Corps- managed land at Whittier Narrows Recreation, Area A
Proponent County of Los Angeles
Department of Parks and Recreation Proposed Implementation Date May, 2013
Proposed Federal Action
County of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation would remove an Underground Storage Tank at Area A, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area
This proposal would allow the Corps recreation lessee to perform removal of an abandoned underground storage tank at Whittier Narrows Basin in northwestern Area A at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. The buried and abandoned tank was discovered during routine road repair several years ago and the County has been ordered to seal or remove it, to test the adjacent soil, and to remediate the soil if necessary. This removal would be the first step in an eventual remediation process.
Location The location is Whittier Narrows Recreation Area and a location map is provided in the draft Environmental Assessment which accompanies this Notice.
Public Involvement The Corps is inviting the general public to submit comments on
potential environmental impacts that could result from implementation of the proposal. The public comment period on preparation of an EA for the proposal described above would extend from 15-30 April, 2013.Please direct your comments or questions to Carvel Bass, US Army Corps of Engineers at 213 452 3392 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 915 Wilshire Boulevard, Ste. 11098, Los Angeles, CA, 90017. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Carvel Bass, Ecologist, Asset Management Division at (213) 452-3392.
The Corps will actively consider any comments timely received. The results of this consideration would be reflected in a memorandum for record placed in the Administrative Record, unless consideration of the comments was reflected directly in the EA, either through a modification of the document prompted by the comments or an appendix to the EA articulating responses to the comments. Once the EA is complete and if a FONSI is determined to be
appropriate based upon the analysis contained in the EA, pursuant to the last cause of 33 CFR § 230.11, a separate notification will be sent to concerned agencies, organizations and to the interested public stating that the FONSI is available for review. If significant effects on the quality of the human environment are subsequently identified and can not be mitigated to a less than significant level, the Corps will initiate preparation of an EIS and afford the public opportunities to participate in the environmental review process.
Draft FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
WHITTIER NARROWS RECREATION NDERGROUND STORAGE TANK (UST) REMOVAL
Los Angeles County, California
I have reviewed the Environmental Assessment (EA) that has been prepared for the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area-Underground Storage Tank (UST) Removal Project. The EA has been prepared to comply with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders.
The EA analyzes the impacts of the Preferred Alternative, which would be comprised of removal of an underground storage tank on lands leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) under Lease Number DACW09-1-86-43 and Amendment No 1. The Preferred Alternative would remove a previously undocumented UST which was discovered during a recycled water installation project. The project would also test soil surrounding the tank’s footprint for any leakage and remediate if necessary. Total project time is six to fourteen weeks, depending on soil testing. Location of this activity is at the northwest area of Area A near the northwest boundary of the County’s recreation Lease and the proposed construction footprint is outside the nearest active recreation area (Soccer Field #10). Recreational access traffic in the immediate area would be temporarily rerouted but the proposal would not affect recreational parking.
Under the No Action Alternative, the existing UST would remain in place with no further investigation or potential remediation at this time.
I have determined that implementation of the Preferred Alternative with the incorporation of the Environmental Commitments identified in this EA is in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (36 Code of Federal Regulations 800), the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other Federal laws and Executive Orders as described in this EA.
I have considered the available information contained in the EA, and it is my determination that there are no significant adverse impacts on the quality of human environment resulting from the approval of the Preferred Alternative. There are no unresolved environmental issues. Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), therefore, is not required.
Carvel Bass Date
Ecologist, Civil Works Branch Asset Management Division
Approval Recommended by:
Theresa M. Kaplan Date
Chief, Asset Management Division Approval by:
R. Mark Toy, P.E. Date
Colonel, US Army
Commander and District Engineer
WHITTIER NARROWS RECREATION AREA- UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK (UST) REMOVAL
Los Angeles County, California
This Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), other Federal laws, Executive Orders, and Corps’ guidance. The Corps is the lead Federal agency for the proposed action.
The Draft EA was made available for agency and public review for 15 days (April 15-30, 2013) to solicit input on the proposed action. comments were received and anticipated adverse impacts are not expected to be significant. Therefore, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) may be prepared.
The location of the proposed action is within Area A of the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area in the City of South El Monte, approximately 16 miles east of downtown Los Angeles (Figure 1, Proposed Action Regional Map). The Underground Storage Tank (UST) is sited below the northbound park exit road at the Loma Avenue and East Rush Avenue park exit (Figure 1 below). Site elevation is approximately 266 feet above mean sea level. The site is located approximately 0.7 miles north of the Pomona (60) Freeway, 0.3 miles west of Rosemead Blvd (19). The land is owned by the Federal government and is administered by the Corps. Moreover, the land is leased to the County of Los Angeles and is utilized as parkland, and is administered by the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Regional Facilities Agency. The site is located entirely within the boundaries of the Los Angeles County First Supervisorial District, as well as the 32nd (California) Congressional District.
In September of 1957, the Corps and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District completed the construction of Whittier Narrows Dam as part of the Whittier Narrows Dam Flood Control Basin (Basin), a flood risk management system for Los Angeles County. The Corps granted a lease of 1,161.0 acres in the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin for recreational purposes to the County of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for a term of 50 years commencing on 11 June 1957 and terminating on 10 June 2007. A new lease for a term of 50 years commencing on 1 June 1986 increased the County’s acreage for recreational development to 1,258.0 acres and extended the termination date to 31 May 2036.
The Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area contains 77 acres of water surface located on the southeast quadrant of the park. The existing UST to be removed is located in Area A under the northbound egress road at the Loma Ave and Rush Street park entrance.
Comments were solicited during the review period of April 15-30, 2013 by: Carvel Bass, Asset Management Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District
P.O. Box 532711
Los Angeles, CA 90053
(Inset from above)
Table of Contents
a) Cover Sheet………………………………………………………………………………………..
b) Table of Contents ……………………………………………………………………………….
c) Environmental Assessment……………………………………………………………………… 6
Preferred Alternative……………………………………………………………………….. 45
Draft ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Proposed Action on Corps-Managed Federal Land
Proposal Name: Whittier Narrows Dam Underground Storage Tank Removal Project Proposed Implementation Date: Spring 2013
Proponent: County of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation Requested Location: Whittier Narrows Flood Control Basin
County: Los Angeles County
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin (Dam, Basin) was authorized pursuant to two acts of Congress. The Flood Control Act (FCA) of 1936 (Public Law [P.L]) 74-738) and the Flood Control Act of 18 August 1941 (PL 77-228). The initial funds for construction were provided in a 1949 Appropriations Bill which provided for the construction of the Dam and related flood risk management works for the protection of metropolitan Los Angeles County, California. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Dam in 1957.
Recreation Section 4 of the FCA, (P.L. 78-534), as amended in 1944, authorizes the Corps to construct, maintain, and operate public park and recreation amenities at water resource development projects and to permit the construction, maintenance, and operation of such amenities.” It authorizes the Corps to grant leases of lands, including structures or amenities that are suitable for public parks and recreation purposes to Federal, state, or local government agencies when such action is determined to be in the public interest. Since 1957 recreation amenities have been developed throughout the Whittier Narrows Flood Control Basin (Basin) by the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation (County) in accordance with a lease agreement between the Corps and the County (Lease DACW09-1-86-43 and the associated Amendment No 1). Under the lease agreement, the Corps reserves the right of the District Engineer of the Corps’ Los Angeles District to approve all projects, improvements, and special events that will have an anticipated attendance in excess of 1,000 people.
Under the authority of the FCA, the Corps has permitted the construction, operation, and maintenance of recreation amenities at the Basin through its lease with the County. As it applies to this action, the Underground Storage Tank (UST) is an operational and maintenance issue to be resolved that has been issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) by the County Department of Public Works-Environmental Programs Division for action. The purpose of the action is to permit the County to remove the UST to address the NOV and eliminate a potential pollution source.
The driving need for this proposal is that the contents of the UST, if any, and the soil surrounding the tank contain any pollutants have yet to be determined. The tank was unearthed during a recycled waterline project but was not investigated or remediated at that time as it was
discovered several years ago by a water utility company. The company did not mark the site or wait until the County could investigate before they had completed their work and repaved.
The County has further identified several objectives of the proposed action, including
This Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluates effects of the proposed removal of a previously unknown UST. The Basin is owned in fee by the Federal government. The County of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation (i.e., County) is requesting approval of specific discretionary construction related actions authorized under an existing lease and supplemental agreements. This EA analyzes potential effects of the proposed action by comparing a No Action Alternative with the Preferred Alternative which would provide approval to the County to permit the UST removal as well as any soil remediation as a result of UST perimeter testing.
This analysis is offered to the interested public to solicit input on the proposed action and would be made available for review and public input for 15 days.
The Corps proposes to approve the County’s request to remove the UST within WNRA maintained and operated by the County, including the soil testing and soil remediation if necessary. The removal would include:
For additional details associated with the proposed action, refer to the description of the Preferred Alternative below.
This removal would include scraping off existing asphalt; exploratory surface digging to locate the tank and its appurtenances; breaching the tank shell to reveal any contents; extraction of the tank and disposal; testing of surrounding soil for contamination as related to the tank’s possible contents; potential remediation of soil through excavation and replacement with clean fill dirt; and repaving of the road, and any curb or landscaping replacement as a result of the project.
All construction work areas would be restored to existing conditions, including existing grade, or better. Construction of the improvements could potentially take up to fourteen (14) weeks (depending on any contamination in the soil). Demolition and excavation work will take four weeks to six weeks, including time to test the soil. Backfill, compaction and paving will take two weeks. If soil is found to be contaminated, remediation and additional testing may delay the project for up to eight weeks. Total project time is six to fourteen weeks, depending on soil testing. This project has many unknowns; scheduling is subject to change. Construction is expected to start in Winter/Spring 2013. Under the County’s noise provisions, construction is allowed to occur during the week between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays. Therefore, this analysis assumes that construction would occur Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (most likely, daily construction would not occur after 6:00 p.m.). (Los Angeles County Code – 12.08.440 – Construction noise)
During construction, the existing northbound exit lane would be temporarily closed. Egress may temporarily be allowed to leave through the entrance side if traffic coordination is provided and the one-way tire guards are disabled. If a temporary exit cannot be coordinated, exiting traffic will be rerouted back to the Rosemead main entrance.
Construction material, equipment and soil would be staged north of soccer field #10. As the UST removal work is completed, equipment and materials would be removed from the site. Any repairs to landscaping would be the last phase of the project before the exit road is reopened for public use. Construction of the proposed action would not require removal of any park trees.
The UST removal construction proposal is located in an area where the ground elevation is 228 feet above mean sea level which is at or slightly above the maximum spillway crest elevation for the Whittier Narrows Dam, located within the Project Maximum Flood (PMF) zone. The PMF is the largest flood that may be expected to occur at a given point on a stream from the most severe combination of critical meteorologic and hydrologic conditions that are reasonably possible on a particular watershed. For the Basin, the PMF elevation is 228.5 feet above mean sea level. The project would not change the Basin’s flood control volume capacity (due to excavation and re-grading); however, temporary displacement of excavated material (temporarily stored above soccer field 10) may contribute to a negligible decrease in Basin capacity, but only in the most severe flood event. The Preferred Alternative would have no increase in filled space resulting in no net increase in flood control volume capacity, which is considered beneficial from a flood control standpoint. Because the improvements would neither increase nor decrease flood control capacity under the PMF, the improvements would not require compensatory excavation of soil elsewhere in the Basin.
Currently, the soccer and ball fields are being used during park hours, including evenings due to the expanded field lighting. The fields are also used for practices and for pick-up games by the general public. With the UST removal, the ball fields will not be affected as the footprint of the project is outside active recreation areas.
The Corps action would be the approval of the proposed remedial work described herein. All uses of lands under Corps administrative control are secondary to the authorized primary purpose for flood risk management.
One alternative which was considered was to excavate around and to fill in the tank with solid material (concrete/soil/etc). However, this alternative was eliminated from further consideration due to the notice of violation produced by the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works-Environmental Programs Division, which ordered removal and remediation of the UST. The only legal solution currently being considered is the tank’s extraction and then, as needed, soil remediation.
No other on-site alternative was considered for analysis because extraction and remediation have been required to occur only at the proposed site.
Also, an offsite alternative was not considered reasonable because the proposed action is the removal of the UST from within Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area at the tank’s location. Funding for the extraction described under the Preferred Alternative has been received under by the DPR-Regional Facilities Agency by the County’s First Supervisorial District and, because of this, no offsite alternatives are considered reasonable or feasible.
IV. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
1. GEOLOGY AND SOIL QUALITY, STABILITY AND MOISTURE
The criteria for significant adverse effects to this resource include substantial effects to people or structures from geologic conditions, including expansive soils, liquefaction, earthquakes, landslides, substantial erosion, depletion of groundwater supplies or interference with groundwater recharge; loss in farmland; direct or indirect destruction of unique geologic features; unique geologic or mineral resources rendered inaccessible; significantly alters the physical or chemical quality of sediments or soils; triggers or accelerates erosion or sedimentation; or otherwise adversely affected; triggering of landslides or erosion or other substantial alteration of topography.
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin lies within the East Montebello fault zone. Several additional active Quaternary faults, defined by the USGS as faults less than 1.6 million years old (USGS 2010) are also present in the immediate area, including the following (Treiman et al. 1998): East Montebello Fault – Runs immediately through the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin and is less than 15,000 years old, Whittier Fault (Elsinore Fault Zone) – 1 mile southeast of the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin, 22.5 miles in length, strike slip fault with a slip rate of 1-5 mm per year and Raymond Fault – Approximately 5 miles north of the Whittier Narrows Dam, 16 miles in length, left lateral (only minor reverse slip) with a 0.1 to 0.22 mm slip rate per year.
According to the 1999 California Department of Conservation Division of Mines and Geology Seismic Hazard Report for the USGS El Monte Quadrangle, the geologic setting of the area is as follows:
Wittier Narrows is a short constriction in the San Gabriel river basin that lies between the Puente Hills to the southeast and the Montebello Hills on the west. It forms a gap, 2-3 miles wide in the chain of the hills (and topographic divide) that separates San Gabriel. Valley on the north from the coastal plain on the south. The dominant geologic feature is a syncline, now filled with alluvial material more that 800 feet deep. The recreation area is situated on the alluvial soils of the San Gabriel floodplain, erosion from the San
Gabriel Mountains. Younger alluvium (Qal is the underlying geological unit. This is unconsolidated, poor to well-graded mass consisting of sand, gravel, and cobbles.
Surface soils are well drained, with moderate rapid permeability, slow runoff, and slight erosion hazard. The sandy soil, irrigated, can support a variety of plants.
The San Gabriel Valley is a structural basin lying between the Sierra Madre fault to the north and the Whittier-Elsinore fault zone in the Puente Hills to the south east. The valley is underlain by thick deposits of alluvion as a result of detritus deposited by stream erosion from the nearby mountains. There are five major faults within a 35-mile radius of the recreation area. The San Andreas Fault lies 35 miles to the north; the Newport- Inglewood Fault lies 19 miles to the southwest. The Sierra Madre fault lies about 10 miles to the northwest, and the Raymond Hill Fault is approximately 3 miles to the north. The Whittier –Elsinore Fault lies 7 miles to the southeast. On 1 October 1987, a 6.1 earthquake occurred on a hidden underground fault in the vicinity of the Whittier- Elsinore Fault.
Liquefaction-induced ground failure historically has been a major cause of earthquake damage in southern California. During the 1971 San Fernando and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, significant damage to roads, utility pipelines, buildings, and other structures in the Los Angeles area was caused by liquefaction-induced ground displacement. Localities most susceptible to liquefaction-induced damage are underlain by loose, water saturated, granular sediment within 40 feet of the ground surface. These geological and ground-water conditions exist in parts of southern California, most notably in some densely populated valley regions and alluviated floodplains. In addition, the potential for strong earthquake ground shaking is high because of the many nearby active faults. The combination of these factors constitutes a significant seismic hazard in the southern California region in general, including areas in the El Monte Quadrangle.
The most recent surface rupture activity for Whittier and Raymond Faults is estimated to be in the Late Quaternary period, most likely less than 130,000 years ago. Interval between major ruptures is less than 15,000 years for the Whittier Fault and approximately 4,500 years for the Raymond Fault. The probable magnitude of previous ruptures is estimated between 6.0 to 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale (ML) and 6.0 to 7.2 ML for the Whittier and Raymond Faults, respectively (SCEDC 2010). The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin lies within the state of California’s designated Seismic Zone; these are areas that, based on historic occurrences of liquefaction, or local geological, geotechnical, and groundwater conditions, have the potential for permanent ground displacements (CDCDMG 1999).
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the UST will not be removed and there will be no further alteration or investigation, so there would be no physical changes relative to baseline conditions that could result in impacts to soils and geology.
Under the Preferred Alternative, the County will remove UST under the exit road at Loma Avenue and Rush Street within “Area A” of the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area Basin, which would require excavations up to approximately 20 feet at the most. The UST removal would include scraping off existing asphalt, exploratory surface digging to locate the tank, breaching the tanks shell to reveal any contents, extraction of the tank and disposal, testing of the surrounding soil for contamination as related to the tank’s possible contents, potential remediation of soil through excavation and replacement with clean fill dirt, repaving of the road and any curb or landscaping replacement as a result of the project.
Although excavations at the site would occur, they would be backfilled and compacted to prevent geotechnical impact such as damage that could be caused by liquefaction. In addition, proper shoring would be employed to ensure safety during construction. Therefore, no significant adverse effect to geology and soils would occur and no environmental commitments are required.
2. HYDROLOGY AND WATER QUALITY
The criteria for significant, adverse effects to this resource include damage to existing water resources including to water quality, streamflow, wetlands, groundwater recharge, or other floodplain-related management issues; violations to any water quality standard or waste discharge requirement, or otherwise substantially degrades water quality; changes in streambed scour or long-term channel degradation; causes an impairment of beneficial uses of any inland waters; or substantially alters existing drainage pattern of the site/area.
The site is located within a designated flood control basin on Federally-owned land, which would subject the proposed action to the requirements of Executive Order 11998 (Floodplain Management). The objective is the avoidance, to the extent possible, of long-and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of the base (100-year) floodplain and the avoidance of direct and indirect support of development in the base floodplain wherever there is a practicable alternative. There is no human habitation permitted within the Basin, and existing structures and improvements are either floodable, flood-proofed, or above the base flood (100-year) water surface elevation.
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin receives flow from the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo, which have their headwaters in separate watersheds. The San Gabriel River forms in the precipitous canyons of the upper San Gabriel Mountains, flows across the San Gabriel Valley, into the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin, passes through the Dam, and empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Rio Hondo headwaters are in the Los Angeles River watershed to the west of the San Gabriel River watershed. The Rio Hondo flows into Whittier Narrows Dam Basin, through the Dam outlet works, and joins with the Los Angeles River at a point approximately 1.5 miles north of Interstate 105. The drainage area of the combined watersheds covers a total of 554 square miles. Though these two rivers have separate watersheds, they are both forced to pass through the Whittier Narrows constriction.
Regular water quality monitoring within the Basin is conducted by the County and continuous sampling here has revealed the presence of several pollutants. Baseline water quality monitoring assessments conducted by watershed stakeholders and the state have characterized Legg Lake as the only water body within the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin boundaries that is not in compliance with state water quality objectives established to protect designated Beneficial Uses. Under the CWA, water quality issues must be reported on the 303(d) list of water quality impairments (CEPA 2006a).
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin is located on top of the San Gabriel Valley Groundwater Basin (SGVGB) in eastern Los Angeles County, which includes a portion of the upper Santa Ana Valley. The groundwater basin is confined and bounded in the north by the Raymond Fault and the San Gabriel Mountain consolidated basement rocks. To the south and the west the groundwater basin is bounded by consolidated rocks of the Repetto, Merced, and Puente Hills. The Chino and the San Jose fault form the eastern boundary of the groundwater basin (California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) 1966).
Wetlands compiled by the National Wetland Inventory (NWI 2010) for Whittier Narrows cover a sizeable area of the Basin and are primarily located along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River. However, due to hydrologic, topographic, and vegetation alterations in the Basin, it is likely that these wetlands have changed significantly in size, location, and function since the aerial photography used for the inventory was captured. Protection of any existing wetlands is important for ecological function within the Basin. Thorough and comprehensive wetland delineation would be required prior to alteration or development of lands within the Basin that may contain jurisdictional wetlands.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the UST will not be removed, there will be no further alteration or investigation, so there would be no physical changes relative to baseline conditions that could result in adverse impacts to water quality, streamflow, wetlands, groundwater recharge, or other floodplain management.
Under the Preferred Alternative, the project will include demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/compaction, and repaving. The excavated soil will be stored in an adjacent area on plastic and covered with a tarp. Site remediation work will vary depending on test results, but may include removal of contaminated soil. These improvements would not change the flood control volume capacity relative to baseline conditions, significant impacts to the flood control basin would not occur.
The Preferred Alternative would require excavation and grading, which could occur within the rainy season. Runoff management and construction best management practices (BMPs) would be employed during construction to minimize sediment and pollutant runoff from the site to keep potential runoff and water quality impacts to a level below significance
The site is not used for active groundwater recharge and no streams would be affected by the Preferred Alternative. Therefore, no significant adverse effect to hydrology and water quality would occur and no environmental commitments are required.
3. AIR QUALITY
The criteria for significant, adverse effects to this resource include causing or contributing to new air quality violation of any standard or increasing the frequency/severity of any existing violations; delaying timely attainment of any local standards, reductions, or other air quality milestones; exceeding any of the following South Coast Air Quality Management District construction emission criteria (ROG – 75 lbs/day; CO – 550 lbs/day; NOx – 100 lbs/day; Sox – 150 lbs/day; PM10 – 150 lbs/day).
Whittier Narrows Basin lies within the boundaries of the South Coast Air Basin (SCAB), which is managed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The SCAB, which covers an area of approximately 6,745 square miles, is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains to the north and east,
and encompasses all of Orange County, Riverside County, Los Angeles County except for Antelope Valley, and the non-desert portion of San Bernardino County.
The SCAB is primarily a coastal plain with interconnected valleys and low hills progressing into high mountain ranges on the perimeter. The region is located within a semi-permanent high- pressure system that lies off the coast. As a result, the weather is mild, tempered by a daytime sea breeze and a nighttime land breeze. This mild climate is infrequently interrupted by periods of extremely hot weather, winter storms, and Santa Ana winds. Rainfall in the SCAB mainly occurs from November through April, with rainfall totals usually within a range of 15 to 18 inches.
The SCAB has a low average wind speed of 4 miles per hour, and as a result, air contaminants in the SCAB do not readily disperse. On spring and summer days, most pollution is moved out of the SCAB through mountain passes or is lifted by the warm vertical currents produced by the heating of the mountain slopes. From late summer through the winter months, lower wind speeds and the earlier appearance of offshore breezes combine to trap pollution in the SCAB. Strong, dry, north or northeasterly winds, known as Santa Ana winds, occur during the fall and winter months, dispersing air contaminants. These conditions tend to last for several days at a time.
In summer, the longer daylight hours and bright sunshine combine to cause a reaction between hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen to form ozone. In winter, the greatest pollution problems are carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which are trapped and concentrated by the inversion layer. Periodically, the SCAB experiences an intermittent weather condition known as El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its counterpart La Niña. During El Niño years, the SCAB experiences warmer air and ocean temperatures, and higher than normal precipitation. ENSO occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean on an average of every 5 years, but varies from 3 to 7 years. The driving factor in ENSO conditions is warmer-than-normal ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific, which causes the reversal, or in milder years the slowing or stopping of circulation patterns between Asia and the Americas. This change in circulation patterns shifts the “normal” pattern of rising warm wet air and rainfall from Southeast Asia to South and North America. La Niña is the counterpart to El Niño and usually has an opposite effect on weather patterns; wetter than normal conditions across the Pacific Northwest and dryer and warmer than normal conditions across much of the southern tier. La Niña brings dry weather to the SCAB and the southwest and southeastern states, usually prevailing strongest from November to January (CDFG 2010a).
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) coordinates and oversees state and Federal air pollution control programs in California, including local air quality management agencies, and maintains air quality monitoring stations throughout the state in conjunction with the EPA and local air districts. The air quality monitoring station closest to the Basin is in the Western San Fernando Valley, station number (state ID) #70074. This station monitors most of the criteria pollutants except for suspended particulate matter (PM10).
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the UST would not be removed and there will be no further investigation or alteration, so there would be no physical changes relative to baseline conditions that could result in adverse impacts to air quality from construction. As a consequence, operation of the No Action Alternative would not result in significant adverse air quality impacts.
Construction impacts from the proposed project would include the use of a saw‐ cutter, backhoe, loader, excavator, crane, and paving equipment. Construction crews would be onsite for an approximate six to fourteen weeks. There will be only one or two round trips for both trucks and workers on most days, if the soil is found to be contaminated later during the project, and it must be exported as hazardous waste, there may be up to 10-12 round trips to/from a dumping site on peak days. Therefore, the project would result in a negligible increase in trips to the Basin when compared to the number of typical recreation users.
The Proposal may produce a temporary, negligible impact to the quality of air in the vicinity and within the Basin due to construction activities, but would have no lasting adverse effects. The outbound (northbound) lane of Loma Avenue will be fenced and closed for the entire duration of work. During this time, outbound traffic will be directed to turn east onto Cortez Drive and exit at Rosemead Blvd. The proposed removal of the UST would not affect the existing generation of air borne pollutants, including particulates and greenhouse gases. The Proposal is not being requested as a park amenity and is not intended to attract new users.
4. VEGETATION COVER, QUANTITY AND QUALITY
The criteria for significant, adverse effects to this vegetation cover, quantity and quality include alteration to valuable vegetative communities and/or include substantial loss of regionally unique or designated habitat; damage to rare plants or that of their habitat or any riparian habitat or other sensitive natural community identified in local or regional plans, policies, regulations or by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) or the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Vegetation in the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin was altered from its historic condition by the construction of the Dam and associated works. Since this construction, local vegetation communities have been further altered by several factors, including drought (CDWR 2009), natural and human-caused erosion, planting and other establishment of non-native species, and ongoing maintenance of lawn and ornamental trees (Los Angeles County 2010). At the time of surveys, California was in its third year of drought, causing many of the species to be in a drought-induced dormancy (CDWR 2009). Ground disturbances have allowed invasive plant species to become established, and these have become widespread. Overall, native plant communities are fragmented, degraded, frequently dominated by invasive species, and small in size. All other park areas are dominated by urban landscaping and non-native plant species.
Vegetation at the site in Area A consists of turf grass on the playing fields surrounded by landscaped lawn and ornamental trees.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no investigation or alterations to the UST or the existing vegetation at the site. Therefore, the No Action Alternative would not result in significant adverse effects to vegetation.
Construction of the Preferred Alternative may require disturbance of turf grass and landscaped lawn areas. Disturbed area will be rehabilitated to the previous condition. There would be no disturbance of natural vegetation communities. Therefore, the Preferred Alternative would not
result in significant adverse effects to vegetation and no environmental commitments are required.
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to wildlife include significant disruption of wildlife corridors; substantial interferences with the movement of any native resident or migratory fish or wildlife species or with established native resident or migratory wildlife corridors, or impede the use of native wildlife nursery sites; and damage to wildlife or their habitat.
The Basin is comprised of a variety of habitat types, including native communities, disturbed vegetation communities, agricultural land, constructed open water, disturbed wetlands, and developed parks or urbanized areas. Species common to the Basin include native and non- native fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. Over 100 bird species use the Basin for breeding, wintering, or are residents. The open water areas found in the Basin attracts waterfowl and shorebirds. Upland habitats host a diversity of passerine species. Bat species are also present and use the Basin for roosting, breeding, or are year-round residents. Only two amphibians are common, including the California toad and Pacific tree frog. Dry upland areas host common lizard and snake species. Non-native species such as feral cats and dogs are also found in the Basin. The area has been designated a Significant Ecological Area (SEA), known as the Whittier Narrows Dam County Recreation Area SEA, by the County of Los Angeles.
The nearest area of non-urbanized, relatively natural wildlife habitat to the Basin is within the Puente Hills to the east of the Basin, and the Montebello Hills to the west. Whittier Narrows Dam Basin is located directly in this Chino-Puente Hills wildlife corridor pathway, and as such, plays a decisive role in determining wildlife connectivity throughout the length of the Puente Hills (Spencer 2005). Due to the highly urbanized condition of Whittier Narrows, however, the Basin is ineffective as a wildlife corridor and is likely to prevent wildlife passage through the larger Chino-Puente Hills corridor. Several major high occupancy highways and freeways pass through the Basin, including Rosemead Boulevard, Pomona Freeway, Durfee Avenue, and the San Gabriel Blvd.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the Underground Storage Tank would remain in its current conditions and there would be no construction that would impact wildlife or changes to existing habitat for wildlife at the site. Therefore, no significant adverse effects on wildlife would occur under the No Action Alternative.
Construction of the Preferred Alternative would require disturbance of turf grass and landscaped lawn in the surrounding areas. Disturbed areas will be restored to the previous condition. The proposed project site is not near any natural wildlife habitat. Therefore, no significant adverse effect to wildlife and wildlife habitat would occur and no environmental commitments are required.
6. THREATENED OR ENDANGERED SPECIES: Baseline
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a database of Federally protected special status taxa, which reports over 20 species as occurring in Los Angeles County (USFWS 2010). The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) maintains the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB), which compiles reported observations of special status species (CDFG 2010b). According to the CNDDB, there are three special status species that have been recently observed within Whittier Narrows Dam Basin: Nevin’s Barberry (Berberis nevinii), Coastal California Gnatcatcher and Least Bell’s Vireo.
High-quality habitat for the federally-listed species above exists elsewhere within the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area and is not near the proposed project site. Given the disturbed nature of the site and the lack of suitable habitat, no federally-listed wildlife or plant species have the potential to use the site.
Table 1. Special Status Species Observed within the Basin
Coastal California gnatcatcher Polioptila californica
Least Bell’s vireo
Vireo bellii pusillus
1Year designated, 2Last observed in Basin, 3Year proposed. 4Last observed according to Corps
data, Source: USFWS 2010, CDFG 2010b.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the Underground Storage Tank would remain in its existing condition and there would be no construction or changes to existing conditions for federally- listed species at the site. Therefore, no significant adverse effects to threatened or endangered species would occur under the No Action Alternative.
The project site does not support habitat for federally-listed species, and there would be no change in these conditions under the Preferred Alternative. In the unlikely event that a federally-threatened or endangered species is observed prior to or during construction, construction would be halted and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be consulted to determine the appropriate action required such that construction can resume. Therefore, no significant adverse effects to threatened or endangered species would occur under the Preferred Alternative and no environmental commitments are required.
Criteria for determining significant, adverse effects to wetlands include disturbance or alteration to a wetland area from its original context, or direct removal, filling, draining or purposeful water reduction or introduction of organisms or fill that would be incompatible to a naturally occurring wetland area as defined by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
(including, but not limited to, marsh, vernal pool, and coastal wetlands) whether it be temporal or permanent.
The UST is located in Area A of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. The UST was discovered several years ago by a water utility company, unearthed in the exit road in Area A. The company did not mark the site or wait until the County could investigate before they completed their work and repaved. As such, the exact tank size and type is Unknown. No wetlands resources have been identified on the project site or in the vicinity.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would maintain the UST in its existing condition. Given that no wetlands exist at the site, no significant adverse effects on wetlands would occur under the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/compaction, and repaving. Given that no wetlands exist at the site, no significant adverse effects on wetlands would occur under the Preferred Alternative and no environmental commitments are required.
8. CULTURAL RESOURCES
The criteria for significant, adverse effects to this resource include disturbance, alteration or otherwise diminishing of the integrity of a property’s location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling or association, from original context, or introduction of culturally incompatible elements to a property considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Consideration of “important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our natural heritage” is required through NEPA and principally regulated by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended (16 USC Section 470).
Under Section 110 of the NHPA, Federal agencies are required to fully integrate the management of cultural resources in ongoing programs and to proactively identify, evaluate, nominate and protect historic properties. Historic properties are cultural resources that meet specific criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Agencies are not required to preserve all historic properties, but agencies must follow a process to ensure that their decisions concerning the treatment of these places result from meaningful consideration of cultural and historic values and the options available to protect the properties.
Section 106 of the NHPA describes the procedures for identifying and evaluating historic properties, for assessing the effects of Federal actions on historic properties, and for project proponents consulting with appropriate agencies, including the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), to avoid, reduce, or minimize adverse effects.
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin is located in an important area for the Tongva. The Tongva living in the Whittier Narrows area called themselves Kichireños, and occupied smaller settlements named ‘Iisanchanga and Wiichinga whose specific locations are not known. Mission
San Gabriel Archangel was founded in 1771, near the present-day city of Montebello, just west of Whittier Narrows. In 1775, the mission was moved to higher ground five miles to the northwest. According to the Mission records the Wiichinga was noted to be “to the east of [the old San Gabriel] Mission on a plain closed by water on all sides and may have been within the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin” (EDAW 2009).
The Whittier Narrows Dam Basin was surveyed for cultural resources in 1987, and included a literature survey, records search and a brief field reconnaissance (Roberts et al. 1987). In 1991 an additional study was conducted by Scientific Resource Surveys which resulted in a sensitivity analysis that was used by the preparers of the 1996 Master Plan. There were no pedestrian surveys conducted in support of the sensitivity analysis, but several areas were considered to be moderate to highly sensitive for cultural resources (Scientific Resource Surveys, Inc. 1991). The preparation of a cultural resource management plan was also referenced, but it is not clear whether this document was completed. Recorded cultural resources include historic–era remains of homes and structures and artifact scatters (Corps 1996). No information was available in the previous Master Plans regarding SHPO concurrence with Corps findings or Native American consultation.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would maintain the UST in its existing condition, and no construction or excavation would occur. Given that no excavation would occur at the site, no adverse impacts to archaeological resources that could be present at the site would occur under the No Action Alternative.
Implementation of the Preferred Alternative would necessitate site excavation of the existing UST and its, former work footprint itself. It is unlikely that the present proposal would exceed the tank’s original construction footprint, but the present proposal could potentially encounter unknown/unrecorded archaeological resources since the ground-disturbing activities may include shallow excavations somewhat beyond the buried UST’s boundary as well as final backfill, compaction and paving although this potential additional subsurface disturbance is likely to be quite minimal. A Corps archaeologist has reviewed this proposal and did provide approval to proceed, based on the project description of this EA.
Because there is potential for the presence of currently unknown archaeological resources, nearby the site, which could be encountered during construction, the following environmental commitment would be implemented to prevent damage to such resources.
CR-1: Any earthmoving that will involve previously undisturbed soil will be monitored by a qualified archaeologist who meets the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for an archaeologist (see 36 CFR Part 61). Earthmoving includes grubbing and ground clearing, grading, and excavation activities. If a previously unidentified cultural or archaeological resource is encountered, all earthmoving activities in the vicinity of the discovery shall be diverted until the Corps complies with 36 CFR Section 800.13(a)(2), including evaluation and recommendations by a qualified archaeologist.
In addition, note that the construction footprint would be limited to the smallest possible area for which to remove the tank itself and it is unlikely there would be a need to extend far, if at all, beyond the tank’s existing boundary which would not be a site of any jurisdictional cultural resources.
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to aesthetic resources include direct or permanent impacts to the landscape by changing important existing scenic characteristics of a landscape in a manner that permanently and significantly degrades an existing view-shed, or alters the character of a view-shed by adding incompatible structures. Additional considerations for adverse effects to aesthetic resources include the presence of prominent topographic features, proximity to scenic areas, and whether or not excessive light would result from the proposed action.
The existing UST, which is in an out-of-service condition, is located beneath the current exit road at Loma Avenue and Rush Street within “Area A” of the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area Basin, in the northern portion of the Basin; no unique topographic features exist at the site. As discussed in the EA prepared for the Whittier Narrows Dam Master Plan (September 2011), with the exception of the Nature Center and surrounding restored areas, the landscape of the Basin reflects its highly urbanized setting
The dominant aesthetic features of the Basin include Puente Hills and the San Gabriel Mountains. Views within the Basin include a variety of settings including landscaped parks, natural areas, roadways, recreation sports areas, rivers and lakes. The man-made northern portion of the Basin is expansive, well-maintained area of lawn, paved and dirt trails, tot lots, and picnic areas. There is an existing soccer field #10 and some mature trees nearby the proposed site.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the out-of-service UST would not be removed. The aesthetics of the project area would remain completely unchanged, and the existing mature trees at the site would remain. Therefore, no significant adverse aesthetic effects would result from the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the removal of the UST which includes demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any). The nearby soccer field would remain in its current configuration. A saw‐cutter, backhoe, loader, excavator, crane, and paving equipment would be used to perform this work. The outbound (northbound) lane of Loma Avenue would be fenced and closed for the entire duration of work, six to fourteen weeks. The excavated soil would be stored in an adjacent dirt area, north of soccer field #10, on plastic and covered with a tarp. A temporary fence would be in place around the worksite. No significant adverse aesthetic effects would result from the proposed action and no environmental commitments are required.
10. NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES
Criteria for determining significant, adverse effects to navigable waters of the U.S. include substantial impediments to the navigation or beneficial uses of the water; or activities that degrade water quality.
According to the Whittier Narrows Dam Master Plan(September 2011), the existing UST is located under the exit road at Loma Avenue and Rush Street within “Area A” of the Whittier
Narrows Dam Recreational Area Basin, in the northern portion of the Basin. The project site does not contain any waters that constitute navigable waters of the U.S.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the out-of-service UST would not be removed. .The area would remain completely unchanged, and navigable waters of the U.S. would remain unaltered.
Therefore, no significant adverse effects to navigable waters of the U.S. would result from the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the removal of the UST which includes demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/ compaction, and repaving. The excavated soil will be stored in an adjacent dirt area, north of soccer field #10, on plastic and covered with a tarp. No navigable waters of the U.S. are located at the site, and the removal of the UST would not affect any navigable waters of the U.S. Therefore, no significant adverse effects to navigable waters of the U.S. would result from the Preferred Alternative and no environmental commitments are required.
The criteria to evaluate significant adverse effects to ambient noise include an increase of 10 dBA above background levels during the daytime or nighttime increase of 5 dBA. Thus, a perceived daytime doubling of noise levels is considered significant, while a lower threshold is used for nighttime noise analysis to reflect people’s increased sensitivity to nighttime noise impacts.
Ambient levels within the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin are generally low. Noise is generated from activities within the Basin itself. The area of the proposed action is occupied by a paved roadway and a landscaped area. Soccer and ball fields are being used during park hours, including evenings due to the expanded field lighting. The fields are also used for practices and for pick-up games by the general public. Commercial uses are located to the north of Rush Street and to the east of Loma Avenue. Due to the low intensity of land uses in the area, noise from traffic on nearby streets such as Loma Avenue, Rush Street, and Cortex Drive are the primary noise sources. Sensitive noise receptors located within 1 mile from the Basin include schools, places of worship, a hospital (City of Hope), hotels, libraries, and community parks.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the out-of-service UST would not be removed. The area would remain completely unchanged, and the noise environment would remain unchanged relative to baseline conditions. Therefore, no significant adverse noise impacts would result from the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the removal of the UST which includes demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/ compaction, and repaving. The excavated soil will be stored in an adjacent dirt area, north of soccer field #10, on plastic and covered with a tarp. The proposed activities require the use of equipment, which may generate high noise levels. A significant adverse effect would occur if the proposed action resulted in or exposed people to noise levels in excess of standards established in the general plan and/or noise ordinance of the municipal code.
The activities under the Preferred Alternative would result in temporary higher-than-average noise levels in the immediate area from construction equipment. Given that the Preferred Alternative would be implemented in accordance with Los Angeles County’s Noise Ordinance, significant adverse impacts to noise levels are not expected. Park visitors to other nearby locations within the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area may be temporarily exposed to noise during construction (particularly during the six to fourteen week construction period and not as much). However, these elevated levels of noise would be intermittent, which would occur within the hours allowed for in the County’s Noise Ordinance, and are not expected to prevent visitor use of other areas of the recreational area.
12. IMPACTS TO EXISTING FEDERAL FLOOD CONTROL PROJECT Baseline
The site is located within a designated flood control basin on federally-owned land, which would subject the proposed action to the requirements of Executive Order 11998 (Floodplain Management). This order requires all federal agencies to take actions to reduce the risk of flood loss, to restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values in floodplains, and to minimize the adverse effects of floods on human safety, health, and welfare. Aside from the primary use of the Basin for flood risk management, the only other authorization for development within a Federal water resources development project is for recreation amenities. The existing UST is located under the exit road at Loma Avenue and Rush Street within “Area A” of the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area Basin, in the northern portion of the Basin.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the out-of-service UST would not be removed, so there would be no physical changes relative to baseline conditions that could result in adverse impacts to floodplain management.
Under the Preferred Alternative, demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/ compaction, and repaving would occur on the site. Significant adverse effects to the flood control basin would not occur and no environmental commitments are required.
13. HUMAN HEALTH AND SAFETY
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to human health and safety include any existing criteria or established thresholds for human health and safety.
The existing UST, which is in an out-of-service condition, is located under the exit road at Loma Avenue and Rush Street within “Area A” of the Whittier Narrows Dam Recreational Area Basin, in the northern portion of the Basin. No unique conditions that pose human health and/or safety issues exist at the UST site.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would not remove the out-of-service UST. The No-Action Alternative would not result in new significant effects to human health and safety. However, without soil testing as proposed, the true condition of existing soil contamination would remain unknown.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the removal of the UST which includes demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/ compaction, and repaving. The excavated soil will be stored in an adjacent dirt area, north of soccer field #10, on plastic and covered with a tarp.
The Preferred Alternative would represent a potential improvement to human health and safety because it would lead, eventually, to a better understanding of subsurface soil conditions which may need remediation. Therefore, a positive effect, and no significant adverse effects, to human health or safety could occur under the Preferred Alternative and no further environmental commitments are required.
14. QUANTITY AND DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYMENT
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to employment include a substantial permanent loss or gain in local employment.
The existing UST is located underground, in the northern portion of the Basin. There are no uses for this specific site except for visitor access on the road above the UST. The site does not provide any employment opportunity.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would not remove the out-of-service UST; no employment opportunities would be gained or lost under this alternative. Therefore, no significant adverse effects on employment would occur under the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the removal of the UST which includes demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/ compaction, and repaving. The excavated soil will be stored in an adjacent dirt area, north of soccer field #10, on plastic and covered with a tarp.
During construction, some temporary construction employment opportunities would exist. Upon completion of construction, the reconstructed road would again resume providing access. As such, future conditions after the UST removal would not generate new employment opportunities. Due to the minimal number of short-term employment opportunities during construction and that there would be no employment gains or losses during operation of the Preferred Alternative, no significant adverse effects on employment would result from this alternative and no environmental commitments are required.
15. ACCESS TO AND QUALITY OF RECREATIONAL AND WILDERNESS ACTIVITIES
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to recreational and wilderness activities include a significant disruption to access of recreational facilities or areas and/or construction or operational activities that substantially conflict with recreational uses.
A variety of recreation resources are available within the Whittier Narrows Basin, including passive and active uses. All recreation uses are non-consumptive. The Basin was divided into sections in the existing Master Plan and labeled by letter and defined by the intersection of Rosemead Boulevard and Highway 60. From this roadway intersection, Area A is in the northwest, Area B is in the northeast, Area C is southwest, Area D is in the southeast, and Area E is to the west of Area D. As these have historically been used to describe the Basin areas, they will serve well in defining the areas herein.
The existing site is located in the northwest corner of Area A of the Basin where public recreational facilities are available to and accessible by the public. Area A is located in the northern portion of the Basin and is east of the Rio Hondo Channel and north of the Pomona Freeway (I-60). The Area covers 144 acres. There are two main points of entry into Area A, one located on the east side of the area from Rosemead Boulevard and one from the north from Loma Avenue. Parking for approximately 450 cars is available in Area A. Existing recreation includes baseball and soccer fields, a park administration building, a BMX facility, the Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver Range, a model airplane/hobby area, seven restrooms, four picnic pavilions with barbecues and approximately 100 picnic tables, and four tot lots.
Recreational activities in the Basin are governed by the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin Master Plan (September 2011), which provides guidance for balancing flood risk management requirements, recreation opportunities, and preservation of natural resources for current and future generations. Land use categories listed in the Master Plan include Project Operations, Recreation, Environmentally Sensitive, Multiple Resource Management – Recreation, Multiple Resource Management – Vegetative Management, and Multiple Resource Management – Inactive/Future Recreation.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would maintain the current UST in its existing condition. The site would continue to be accessible to, and utilized by the general public. Access would continue to be maintained via Loma Avenue and Rush Street. Therefore, no significant adverse effects to the accessibility of recreational resources would occur under the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative would involve the demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/compaction, and repaving. During the construction period, the outbound (northbound) lane of Loma Avenue will be fenced and closed for approximately six to fourteen weeks. During this time, outbound traffic will be directed to turn east onto Cortez Drive and exit at Rosemead Blvd. Once the project is completed, Loma Avenue will be open to the general public. As such, no significant adverse effects to the accessibility of recreational resources would occur under the Preferred Alternative and no further environmental commitments are required.
The criteria for significant, adverse effects to this resource include closures to major roadways (arterial or collector classification) without suitable alternative routes; restricting access to or from adjacent land uses without suitable alternative access; increases in roadway wear as a result of heavy truck or equipment movements, resulting in noticeable deterioration of roadway surfaces; decreases in roadway capacity caused by approval/granting of the Proposal; vehicle trips associated with additional commuter and truck trips would result in an unacceptable reduction in level of service of local jurisdictions on roadways in the vicinity of construction or would result in safety problems for vehicular traffic, transit operations, or trains; conflicts with planned transportation improvements in the area; results in safety problems for vehicular traffic, transit operations, or trains; or results in an unacceptable reduction in the level of service standards of local jurisdictions.
There are two main points of entry into Area A, one located on the east side of the area from Rosemead Boulevard and one from the north from Loma Avenue. The northbound egress road at the Loma Ave and Rush Street park entrance serves the baseball and soccer fields, a park administration building, a BMX facility, the Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver Range, a model airplane/hobby area, seven restrooms, four picnic pavilions with barbecues and approximately 100 picnic tables, and four tot lots in Area A.
No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the UST would not be removed and there would be no physical changes relative to baseline conditions that could result in adverse traffic impacts due to construction.
The Preferred Alternative would involve demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/compaction, and repaving. During the construction period, the outbound (northbound) lane of Loma Avenue will be fenced and closed for approximately six to fourteen weeks. During this time, outbound traffic will be directed to turn east onto Cortez Drive and exit at Rosemead Blvd. Construction would require establishing a staging area at north of Soccer Field # 10 for delivering materials, equipment and storing the excavated soil. Construction trips include supply trucks (for asphalt, concrete, and materials) haul trucks (for haul away of small amounts of soil and construction debris), and worker trips.
During construction, there would be only one or two round trips for both trucks and workers on most days. If the soil is found to be contaminated later during the project, and it must be exported as hazardous waste, there may be up to 10-12 round trips to/from a dumping site on peak days.
The County’s Department of Public Works has established guidelines for the preparation of traffic studies for projects in the County of Los Angeles. These guidelines indicate whether or not a project has the potential to result in significant traffic impacts; and DPW requires traffic studies to be prepared if:
1) The project is likely to add 500 or more daily trips or likely to add 50 or more AM or PM peak hour trips and,
2) The project is likely to significantly impact nearby intersection(s) which are presently believed to be operating at Level of Service (LOS) C, D, E or F.
The guidelines do not apply to construction because construction traffic is temporary and ceases once the proposed action is completed. Nonetheless, since construction of the proposed action would not result in greater than 30 trips in the peak hour, significant adverse effects on traffic would not result from construction and no environmental commitments are required.
17. ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Criteria for significant, adverse effects to environmental justice include impacts to a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, prices, or jobs; impacts on the welfare of minority or low- income populations (in accordance with Executive Order 12898); changes on the availability of a public service; detriments to fiscal and physical ability of the local governmental agencies to meet the needs of the public following the project-related changes in the local population; a substantial long-term decrease in local employment due to direct loss of jobs or an adverse effect on the local economy that results in an indirect long-term loss of jobs; creates an unacceptable spike in demand for temporary housing caused by construction needs that displace or prevent normal users from being able to obtain temporary housing in the area; or causes disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minorities, low-income residents, or children.
The site is located in Area A of the Basin. Commercial buildings are north and east to the project site, there are no residential areas nearby.. The site is within Census Tract 4337. Current census (2010) data was obtained from the US Census relative to total population, and median annual household income within the Census Tract No. 4337 in which the project site is located. The census tract had a total population of 3,403 persons. The median annual household income of the population within this census tract was $ 50,403.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would maintain the UST in its current condition. Because no changes would occur, no minority or low-income populations would be disproportionately affected by this alternative, no jobs would be lost, and no housing would be displaced; therefore, no environmental justice effects would result from the No Action Alternative.
The Preferred Alternative involves the demolition of the road’s asphalt paving, testing and removal of liquid from the tank (if any), excavation and removal of the UST, soil testing, backfill/compaction, and repaving. The Preferred Alternative would not alter or split the established community boundaries or cohesion of the community, interrupt service areas, disrupt existing patterns of circulation, or permanently reduce access to community facilities
During construction, temporary construction-related jobs may be generated by the proposed action. Following the completion of construction, no new jobs will be generated. Additionally, no housing would be temporary or permanently lost by the project, the populations surrounding the site would not be permanently, negatively affected by the proposed action. As such, no significant adverse impacts to environmental justice populations would result from the Preferred Alternative and no environmental commitments are required.
V. CUMULATIVE IMPACTS
Cumulative impacts of a proposed action must be assessed according to CEQ regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508). A cumulative impact is an “impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions” (40 CFR Section 1508.7). Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor, but collectively significant, actions taking place over time (40 CFR Section 1508.7). CEQ’s guidance for considering cumulative effects states that NEPA documents “should compare the cumulative effects of multiple actions with appropriate national, regional, state, or community goals to determine whether the total effect is significant” (CEQ 1997).
Cumulative impacts are evaluated in the context of the Whittier Narrows Dam Basin Master Plan, which provides the frameworks for all improvements in the Basin.
a. PAST CONDITIONS
The Basin was constructed in the San Gabriel Valley, an area of continually increasing urbanization that has significantly altered the natural environment. The communities surrounding the Basin have become densely urbanized over the past century, marked by extensive automobile traffic, highly developed industrial and residential areas, numerous noise sources, and dense population. The construction of Whittier Narrows Dam and development within the Basin has also contributed to cumulative environmental impacts to the area.
Following construction of the Basin, ongoing operation and maintenance of the Basin and its recreation amenities has continued to impact environmental conditions.
Cumulative impacts of development within and around the Basin have adversely affected water quality and quantity, air quality, noise levels, biological resources, recreation opportunities, esthetics, and social and environmental sustainability. Dense urbanization has adversely affected the presence of culturally valuable resources, as well as the native fish, wildlife and vegetative habitats that were historically present in the Basin. Development both within and around the Basin has increased the possibility for introduction of pollutants, toxic materials, wastes, and non-native plant and animal species to the Basin. The overall quality of the natural environment at the Basin has diminished significantly since industrialization and urbanization of Los Angeles County.
The existing and underlying land is presently leased to the County of Department of Parks and Recreation. Immediately west of the Area A is the Rio Hondo River and Whittier Narrows Golf Course. South of the site is the Pomona (60) Freeway. North and East of the site is existing commercial, manufacturing and trucking. Current use does not support wildlife or vegetation. recreational opportunities.
b. PRESENT CONDITIONS
In addition to recreation activities, the Basin is currently subject to a major maintenance improvement to the Southern California Edison (SCE) power line corridor which passes through the Recreation Area’s Areas C and D (located south of the present proposal). Other studies related to the Corps’ Whittier Narrows and Rio Hondo Dams and also located south of this location, are under discussion as well.
The County continues to operate and maintain recreation facilities in the Basin and which sometimes results in such maintenance or repair activities as needed.
This proposed project site would temporarily close the existing northbound exit lane. Park users and other potential receptors would be subject to minor temporary construction noise and traffic impacts, managed by the County and/or its contractor.
c. FUTURE CONDITIONS
Whittier Narrows Basin is largely developed and managed by Los Angeles County for recreation, but in addition, the Basin contains other out-granted areas as well as a potential for other types of future projects such as Corps sediment removal, MTA transportation corridor improvements or developments such as a Gold Line rail extension which is under discussion, and the potential for other proposals which may arise.
Recreational facilities would continue to be used into the foreseeable future. Adjacent areas will continue to be used and developed although the Basin itself would remain primarily reserved for flood risk management purposes and compatible uses, such as recreation. Recreational users will continue to visit the Basin. In comparison with present or likely future conditions, the proposed UST Removal would not have a significant adverse effect on the site. These types of potential impacts would be managed and be temporary.
VI. SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENTS OF THE PREFERRED ALTERNTIVE
In accordance with state requirements, the proposed project would implement a storm water pollution prevention plan for erosion and sedimentation control during construction.
Construction practices would include, but may not be limited to: erosion control; spill prevention and control; solid and hazardous waste management; and dust control to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the construction area to the storm water system. These measures would prevent impacts to water quality. Best management practices would be undertaken to control runoff and erosion from earthmoving activities such as excavation and grading.
Any earthmoving that will involve previously undisturbed soil will be monitored by a qualified archaeologist who meets the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for an archaeologist (see 36 CFR Part 61). Earthmoving includes grubbing and ground clearing, grading, and excavation activities. If a previously unidentified cultural or archaeological resource is encountered, all earthmoving activities in the vicinity of the discovery shall be diverted until the Corps complies with 36 CFR Section 800.13(a)(2), including evaluation and recommendations by a qualified archaeologist.
Under the No Action Alternative, the Property area would remain in its current state. For the purposes of this document, the No Action Alternative is not expected to result in any changes to the site. Although the No Action Alternative would result in no new environmental alterations, it would not meet the purposes and needs of the proposed project—to remove the existing Underground Storage Tank.
VII. AGENCY COORDINATION
A public notice of the proposed action was made available April 15-30, 2013.
VIII. RESPONSE TO COMMENTS
comments were received during the public review period.
IX. Applicable Environmental Laws and Compliance
The EA was prepared to comply with the requirements of the laws and regulations discussed below:
a. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 United States Code [USC] 4321 et seq.)
Under NEPA, a Federal agency must prepare an EA describing the environmental effects of any proposed action having a significant impact on the environment. The EA identifies measures necessary to avoid or minimize adverse impacts resulting from the proposed action or determine if further analysis is required and prepare an EIS. This EA was prepared to comply with the Act.
b. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 USC 661)
The proposed action considered in this EA does not involve impoundment, diversion, or other modification to bodies of water. A Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report is not required.
c. Endangered Species Act (ESA), as amended (16 USC 1531 et seq.)
The Corps determined that the proposed action will not impact any listed species. Consultation was not required. The proposed action complies with the ESA.
d. Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 USC 715- 715s)
The MBTA prohibits the taking or harming of any migratory bird, its eggs, nests, or young without an appropriate Federal permit. Almost all native birds are covered by this Act. A “migratory bird” includes the living bird, any parts of the bird, its nests, or eggs. The take of all migratory birds is governed by the MBTA’s regulation of taking migratory birds for educational, scientific, and recreational purposes and requiring harvest to be limited to levels that prevent over-utilization. Section 704 of the MBTA states that the Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to determine if, and by what means, the take of migratory birds should be allowed and to adopt suitable regulations permitting and governing take. Disturbance of the nest of a migratory bird requires a permit issued by the USFWS pursuant to Title 50 of the CFR. Although the proposed action is not anticipated to result in the harming of any migratory bird, its eggs, nests, or young with appropriate Federal permit, environmental commitments have been included to avoid significant adverse effect on MBTA birds; therefore, the proposed action complies with the Act.
e. Clean Water Act (33 USC 1251 et seq.)
The proposed action is limited to an approval for use/occupation of Federal land within the Basin that will be conditioned upon the City complying with all required permitting requirements; therefore, Section 401 certification and acquisition of a Section 402 permit by the Corps is not required.
For Corps actions, the Corps does not issue permits, but demonstrates compliance, or “equivalency,” with Section 404 through a Section 404(b)(1) analysis. In addition, the requirements and conditions of nationwide permits and regional permits may be applied for Corps actions and thus considered when addressing compliance with Section 404. All other entities must obtain a Section 404 permit from the Corps before undertaking any discharge of dredged or fill materials into waters of the United States, unless determined to be exempt from this regulation.
f. Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 USC 7401 et seq.)
1970 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 USC 7401 et seq.) enacted legislation to control seven toxic air pollutants. EPA adopted National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), which has been designed to control Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) emissions to prevent adverse health effects in humans.
1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act determine the attainment and maintenance of NAAQS (Title I), motor vehicles and reformulation (Title II), hazardous air pollutant (Title III), acid deposition (Title IV), operating permits (Titles V), stratospheric ozone protection (Title VI), and enforcement (Title VII). The proposed action would be required to comply with rules and regulations used to regulate sources of air pollution; therefore, the alternatives would be consistent with this Act. In addition, environmental commitments have been added to reduce emissions during construction to below localized significance thresholds levels.
g. National Historic Preservation Act (16 US. 460b, 470l-470n)
Since the proposed action is limited to the existing Underground Storage Tank within the Basin, the Corps has determined that the proposed action will have no effect on historic properties. In addition, an environmental commitment has been added in the unlikely event that archaeological resources are encountered during construction. As such, the proposed action is in compliance with Section 106 of the Act and its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800).
h. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (42 USC 9601 et seq.)
As there are no known hazardous waste sites within the Basin, this Act is not applicable to this proposed action.
i. Noise Control Act of 1972, as amended (42 USC 4901 et seq.)
Noise generated by any activity, which may affect human health or welfare on Federal, state, county, local, or private lands must comply with noise limits specified in the Noise Control Act. The proposed action would not result in impacts to noise and is therefore cconsistent with this act.
j. Archeological Resources Protection Act, as amended
The Archeological Resources Protection Act requires that when cultural resources may be impacted when working on Federal lands or there is another Federal connection. The Act allows for the preservation of historical and archeological data (including relics and specimens) which might otherwise be irreparably lost or destroyed. Although no cultural resources are expected to be impacted, the proposed action includes an environmental commitment to avoid significant adverse effect on unknown archeological resources; therefore, the proposed action complies with the Act.
k. Executive Order 11988: Floodplain Management
Signed May 24, 1977, this order requires that government agencies, in carrying out their responsibilities, provide leadership and take action to restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values served by floodplains. Before proposing, conducting, supporting or allowing an action in the floodplain, each agency is to determine if planned activities will affect the floodplain and evaluate the potential effects of the intended action on its functions. In addition, agencies shall avoid locating development in a floodplain to avoid adverse effects in the floodplains.
l. Executive Order 11990: Protection of Wetlands
Federal agencies shall take action to minimize the destruction, loss, or degradation of wetlands, and to preserve and enhance the natural and beneficial values of wetlands in carrying out the agencies responsibilities. The Underground Storage Tank has existed at this site on land classified as Recreation in the Whittier Narrows Dam Flood Control Basin Master Plan; no wetlands exist within the vicinity of the Underground Storage Tank. Therefore, this Act is not applicable to this proposed action.
m. Executive Order 12088, Federal Compliance with Pollution Control Standards
Federal agencies are responsible for ensuring that all necessary actions are taken for the prevention, control, and abatement of environmental pollution with respect to Federal facilities and activities under control of the agency. Enactment of environmental commitments to minimize pollution impacts during implementation would meet the standards of this Executive Order. The proposed action includes environmental commitments to avoid significant adverse effects, including environmental pollution; therefore, the proposed action complies with the Act.
n. Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, February 11, 1994
Executive Order 12898 (Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low- Income Populations) was signed on February 11, 1994. This order was intended to direct Federal agencies “To make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing … disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the [U.S.] …” To comply with the Executive Order, minority and poverty status in the vicinity of the project was examined to determine if any minority or low-income communities would potentially be disproportionately affected by implementation of the proposed action. This EA includes an environmental justice analysis that determined no minority or low-income populations would be disproportionately affected by the proposed action, no jobs would be lost, and no housing would be displaced; therefore, no significant adverse impacts to environmental justice populations would result from the Preferred Alternative and the proposed action is in compliance with the requirements and policies pertaining to environment justice.
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This EA was prepared by:
United States Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District
Asset Management Division 915 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90017
This EA was reviewed by:
United States Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District
915 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90017
Carvel Bass, Ecologist
Steve Dibble, Senior Archaeologist
[ ] EIS [ ] FONSI
EA Prepared By: Carvel Bass Branch
Ecologist, Civil Works
Name Date Title
Reviewed By: Karen Kennedy April, 2013 Chief, Civil Works Branch
Name Date Title