[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 204 (Wednesday, October 22, 2003)]
[Pages 60414-60415]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-26621]



Bureau of Reclamation

American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project, 
Sacramento River, California

AGENCY: Bureau of Reclamation, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement/ 
environmental impact report and notice of scoping meeting.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969 as amended, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) proposes to 
participate in a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental 
Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on the American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat 
Improvement Project (ABFS). The ABFS is being proposed by the Natomas 
Mutual Water Company (NMWC), a private mutual water company. The 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) will be the lead agency 
under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of 
the ABFS is to improve passage conditions for migratory fish species in 
segments of the lower Sacramento River and Natomas Cross Canal adjacent 
to the American Basin, to improve aquatic and riparian habitat 
conditions in the project area, and to prevent entrainment of resident 
and migratory fish species in unscreened water diversions.

DATES: A public scoping meeting will be held on November 20, 2003, from 
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Sacramento, California.
    Written comments on the project scope should be sent to the ABFS at 
the address below by December 4, 2003.

ADDRESSES: The public scoping meeting will be held at the Residence Inn 
by Marriott, located in the South Natomas area of Sacramento, at 2410 
West El Camino Avenue.
    Written comments on the project scope should be sent to the 
American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project, c/o Stephen 
Sullivan, Mead & Hunt, Inc., 3327 Longview Drive, Suite 100, North 
Highlands, CA 95660.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Robles, Environmental Specialist 
with the Bureau of Reclamation at (916) 978-5050 or James Navicky, 
Environmental Scientist with California Department of Fish and Game at 
(916) 358-2030.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMWC is a private mutual water company 
subject to local land use controls, including those of Sacramento and 
Sutter counties and the City of Sacramento. The service area of the 
NMWC includes the entire Natomas Basin, and NMWC controls surface water 
rights for over 280 landowners within the 55,000-acre Natomas Basin. 
NMWC diverts water from the Sacramento River [generally between River 
Mile (RM) 79 and RM 61] and the Natomas Cross Canal to provide 
irrigation water for agricultural uses and habitat preservation.
    NMWC currently maintains five pumping plants along the Sacramento 
River and the Natomas Cross Canal. These pumping plants divert surface 
water from the Sacramento River and Natomas Cross Canal into the NMWC 
service area. The five pumping plants maintain a total maximum water 
diversion capacity of 630 cubic feet per second (cfs). There are also 
several local landowners within the Natomas Basin that are diverting 
irrigation water from the Sacramento River into the Natomas Basin 
through small privately owned pumps.
    Drainage and flood control for the Natomas Basin is provided by 
Reclamation District 1000 (RD 1000), a public agency that has a 
coinciding service area with the NMWC and several joint use facilities.
    Irrigation water is distributed primarily throughout the service 
area using NMWC's system of highline canals. NMWC also uses the RD 1000 
drainage canal system to distribute water within the service area. 
Sacramento River water is pumped into the drainage canal system to be 
commingled with tailwater. This water is then relifted into the 
highline canal system or delivered directly into the fields.
    The ABFS is necessary to avoid and/or minimize potentially adverse 
effects to at-risk fish species, including listed and proposed species, 
that inhabit or otherwise use these watercourses during various life 
stages, and to ensure the reliability of NMWC's water diversion and 
distribution facilities so that water supplies for agricultural use, 
habitat preservation, and habitat maintenance, including winter flooded 
waterfowl habitat, will continue. The habitat created through the 
operation of NMWC irrigation facilities provides habitat for at-risk 
species such as the state and federally-listed giant garter snake and 
the state-listed Swainson's hawk, as well as other species. Seasonal 

[[Page 60415]]

of rice fields for rice straw decomposition provides wetland habitat 
for various local and migratory waterfowl.
    The ABFS has been developed to address concerns regarding the 
health of local fish species. At various times of the year and various 
life stages, the lower Sacramento River and Natomas Cross Canal are 
inhabited by numerous fish species, including such state and federally-
listed species as the winter-run chinook salmon, spring-run chinook 
salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento splittail, delta smelt, 
and other at-risk species. These fish species, particularly anadromous 
salmonids (those fish that live as adults in salt water and spawn in 
fresh water) use the Sacramento River and Natomas Cross Canal as part 
of their migration corridor for upstream migration of spawning adults 
and downstream migration of rearing juveniles. Many of the fish species 
of concern that use these rivers have declined in population during the 
last few decades as a result of various stress factors.
    The ABFS would maintain the existing NMWC diversion capacity of 630 
cfs, and include the following improvements to NMWC facilities under 
all action alternatives:
    [sbull] Decommissioning and removal of the existing Verona 
Diversion Dam and lift pumps;
    [sbull] Removing the five pumping plants (two along the Natomas 
Cross Canal and three along the Sacramento River) and several small 
diversions operated by local landowners;
    [sbull] Constructing one, or two new diversion facilities with fish 
    [sbull] Modifications to the distribution system, including 
regrading of existing canals and drains, the construction of new 
irrigation canals and drains, and modifications to drainage canals to 
redistribute flows from the new diversion locations;
    [sbull] Additional capacity for the internal relift pumps at RD 
1000 Pumping Plant No. 3 in place of the removed Riverside Pumping 
    [sbull] Regrading the Riverside Main Highline Canal from RD 1000 
Pumping Plant No. 3 to the existing Riverside Pumping Plant;
    [sbull] Upgrading of two control structures, the County Line Check 
and Lift Pump and the Elkhorn Check and Lift Pumps;
    [sbull] Regrading the North Drainage Canal from the V drain to 
Highway 99 in order to improve conveyance;
    [sbull] Regrading the Elkhorn Main Highline Canal between the 
existing Prichard Pumping Plant and the existing Elkhorn Pumping Plant; 
    [sbull] Additional modifications to the distribution system based 
on which diversion facilities are constructed.

The EIS/EIR will consider a range of alternatives including the no-
action alternative.
    Scoping is an early and open process designed to determine the 
issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS/EIR. The following 
are items to be addressed that have been identified to date: 
Aesthetics/Visual Quality; Agricultural Resources; Air Quality; 
Biological Resources (Terrestrial and Aquatic Biology); Cultural 
Resources; Geology and Soils; Hazards and Hazardous Materials; 
Hydrology and Water Quality; Land Use; Noise; Transportation and 
Circulation; Environmental Justice; Indian Trust Assets; Cumulative 
Impacts; and Construction Effects.
    The draft EIS/EIR will focus on the impacts and benefits of 
implementing the various alternatives. It will contain an analysis of 
the physical, biological, social, and economic impacts arising from the 
alternatives. In addition, it will address the cumulative impacts of 
implementation of the alternatives in conjunction with other past, 
present, and reasonably foreseeable actions.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home address from public 
disclosure, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There 
also may be circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's 
identity from public disclosure, as allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at 
the beginning of your comment. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirety.

    Dated: October 16, 2003.
Frank Michny,
Regional Environmental Officer, Mid-Pacific Region.
[FR Doc. 03-26621 Filed 10-21-03; 8:45 am]