News Release Manager

Corps Issues Permit for Maintenance of Orange County Ocean Outlets

Published July 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES – Regulators from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District issued a federal permit to Orange County Parks July 11 for semi-annual and minor maintenance activities at the Poche Beach Ocean Outlet and the Capistrano Beach Ocean Outlet No. 1, located in and near the city of Dana Point, Orange County, Calif.  The permit was issued pursuant to section 404 of the Clean Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

The Corps Regulatory Program evaluates permit applications for most construction activities that occur in the nation’s lakes, rivers, streams, oceans and wetlands.  Federal regulations for issuing CWA permits require the applicant to pursue the least environmentally damaging practical alternative, "which would have less adverse impacts on the aquatic ecosystem, so long as the alternative does not have other significant adverse environmental consequences," according to David Castanon, chief of the district’s Regulatory Division.

OC Parks plans to conduct semi-annual maintenance activities in the fall before the wet season and in the spring before the summer recreation season.  These maintenance activities will include excavation of sediment deposits at the end of the outlets, discharge of excavated sediment onto the adjacent beaches above the high tide line, grading to prepare the adjacent beach areas for recreational use, and backfilling of the Capistrano Beach Ocean Outlet No.1 to prevent ponding.  Minor, as-needed maintenance will include year-round berm-breaching activities to re-establish channel flow when ponding occurs and beach access impairment is imminent or has already occurred. 

The issued permit is in the form of a Regional General Permit.  Prior to issuance of this RGP, OC Parks was required to obtain individual authorizations from the Corps for each maintenance action that resulted in a discharge of dredged material into waters of the United States or for work within navigable waters of the United States at the two ocean outlets.  The RGP authorizes the routine maintenance program as a whole, but continued participation by the Corps will occur to ensure full compliance with permit conditions and to ensure that environmental effects of the activities are kept to a minimal level (as required by law for activities authorized by RGPs).  For example, the Corps has requested OC Parks submit a pre-construction notification when nesting California least tern or western snowy plover are found within 500 feet from a proposed maintenance event.  This will allow for coordination with applicable resource agencies to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.  While ensuring minimal environmental effects, the RGP also provides OC Parks with a more efficient, less costly and more timely ability to implement these maintenance activities.

"We work with applicants to avoid impacts to lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and coastal waters, where possible; then we try to minimize impacts.  Following those efforts, if any impacts remain, we then focus on developing compensatory mitigation plans to offset those permitted impacts,” said Castanon.  “The Los Angeles District’s Regulatory mission is to protect the nation’s waters in Southern California and Arizona, while allowing for reasonable development and public infrastructure needs through fair, flexible and timely permit decisions."

During the permit process, the Corps sought and considered the views of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the San Diego Water Board, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Coastal Commission, local agencies, interest groups and the general public.

Regulatory Program Goals:

·        To provide strong protection of the nation's aquatic environment, including wetlands.

·        To ensure that the Corps provides the regulated public with fair and reasonable decisions.

·        To enhance the efficiency of the Corps’ administration of its regulatory program.

- 30 -

David J. Castanon

Release no. 12-008