The project is a proposed dam and 3,000-acre supplemental water supply reservoir for the City of Springfield, Illinois (City). DA permit #: CEMVR-OD-P-2007-0327; Current: CEMVR-OD-P-2016-0095
The project is a proposed dam and 3,000-acre water supply reservoir for the City. The Rock Island District Corps of Engineers (Corps) first received a Section 404 permit application on August 1, 1989.
The Corps’ Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published in the Federal Register on November 24, 2001; the Record of Decision and Statement of Findings were not issued in order to incorporate applicant changes to the proposed project and water quality conditions from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).
On December 3, 2008, the IEPA held a public hearing to solicit comments on the project relating to their water quality certification; however, IL EPA certification review is not complete. Recent information indicates a gravel pit for supplemental water supply may be a viable alternative to the proposed reservoir, but this alternative has not been adequately evaluated. An updated yield analysis and field pump test will be needed to determine how much water is available.
In December 2010, Rock Island District notified the City that the FEIS needed to be supplemented due to the age of the data and to fully evaluate the alternatives. The application was withdrawn pending the applicant's response.
On October 7, 2015, Regulatory staff met with the Mayor of Springfield, Illinois EPA and Illinois DNR, to discuss moving forward with the project review. The Supplemental EIS (SEIS) process was explained to the City, and the process whereby they will need to fund a third party contractor to prepare the SEIS. The IL EPA representatives discussed their requirements for issuing Section 401 water quality certification. An important issue that was discussed was that the proposed lake would likely violate state water quality standards.
On 1-27-16 an incomplete 404 permit application was received by the Corps from the City for a proposed Hunter Lake Development project. The process for completing the SEIS and hiring a 3rd party contractor was provided by the Corps staff. The City submitted proposals from two consultants for consideration on 1-28-2016.
On 5-2-16, a 3rd party consultant was hired by the City to complete the SEIS for the Corps.
On 8-15-16, the Notice of Intent (NOI) to complete the SEIS was published in the Federal Register, beginning the scoping process for completion of the SEIS. A public notice was sent out on 8-15-16 announcing the NOI to prepare a SEIS, and announcing the beginning of the scoping process for the SEIS which ended on 9-14-16. The public notice also announced a public scoping meeting to be held in Springfield on 8-24-16.
On 8-24-16, the public scoping meeting was held in the city of Springfield. The Corps, The City, and 3rd party consultant, AMEC (Foster Wheeler), were the main parties responsible for conducting the public meeting. The meeting was attended by 150 people, including local news media and local officials, and several comments were received.
September 2016-December 2016-the Corps participated in agency coordination meetings dealing with state/federal threatened and endangered species, cultural resources, water quality, wetland/stream field check. Continued to review and comment on portions of the Draft SEIS (DSEIS) which are being completed for the project by consultant-AMEC FW. The DSEIS for the project is projected to be completed by January, 2018.
January 2017-August 2017- the Corps participated in two coordination meetings (March and August) with the City, IEPA, and consultant-AMEC FW. Topics of discussion were the various components of the DSEIS. Type, quantity, and costs of compensatory stream and wetland mitigation are being factored into the consideration of alternatives, which has had a large impact on the cost of the Hunter Lake alternative, substantially increasing its cost. Continuing to review and comment on various tech memos and portions of the DSEIS which are being completed for the project by consultant-AMEC FW.
On February 27, 2018, a meeting between the Corps, the City, and consultant-AMEC FW, now known as (Wood), took place to discuss additional information that was needed to complete the alternatives analysis portion of the DSEIS.
On May 14, 2018-By letter, the City requested a meeting with the Corps to discuss alternatives, mitigation and the project providing a recreational benefit to Springfield and the region and requested that the Corps add recreational benefit to the alternatives practicability screening.
On June 4, 2018-By letter, the Corps responded to the City’s May 14th letter and provided a detailed response to the City’s comments on alternatives, mitigation and the proposal to change project’s primary purpose and need to include recreation. The Corps suggests dates for a meeting with the City.
On July 31, 2018-By letter, the City requested that recreation be considered an additional primary purpose and need for their project. This will significantly affect the project schedule. The City will need to re-define their project purpose, and show us the need.
On August 20, 2018-By letter, the Corps responded to the City’s July 31st letter and acknowledges the City’s request to redefine the project purpose and need to include recreation. The Corps requested the City to provide us with additional information to support a redefined purpose and need to include recreation. The Corps requested information to support a demand for recreation opportunities in the Springfield region, to define what recreation opportunities are needed, and to define the Springfield region. The Corps agrees to meet with the City to discuss this important issue and requests the City to provide dates for a meeting.
On September 5, 2018-A meeting is held between the City, the Corps and the District Engineer (DE). The meeting discussed the project history, project status, communication strategy with the 3rd party contractor-Wood, and the City’s requested redefining of the project purpose and need to include recreation. The Corps requested additional information from the City in order to consider a change to the project purpose and need to include recreation. The City was informed that they will need to demonstrate a demand for recreation opportunities in the Springfield region, including defining what recreation opportunities they want the Corps to consider and defining the Springfield region.
On December 4, 2018-By letter, the City provides Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recreational information, but the Corps determined it to be inadequate in demonstrating the demand for recreation opportunities in the Springfield region.
On January 17, 2019-By letter, the Corps responded to the City’s December 4th letter that the recreation information provided was inadequate for determining the demand for recreation opportunities in the Springfield region. The Corps identifies what recreation demand information is needed to consider a change to the project purpose and need to include recreation. The Corps again asks the City to define what recreational opportunities they want the Corps to consider and to define the Springfield region. The Corps provides information on recreation demand analysis that the City can use for their project.
The City is scheduled to inform the Corps by March 1, 2019 whether they will pursue developing the information needed to modify the purpose and need for their project to include recreation. Once the Corps has the City’s decision, we will prepare a new timeline for completion of this effort.
On February 27, 2019-By letter, the City responds to our January 17th letter by repeating their stance that recreation was in the NOI, and was always an intended purpose and need of the project. The letter also brought up Alternatives Analysis issues from 2018 and public notice concerns, and failed to state what the City’s defined recreational need was. The letter also requested a meeting with the Corps.
On March 22, 2019, a video conference took place between the City and the Corps, and the District Engineer (DE). Discussion centered on the current status of the Supplemental EIS for a water supply. The Corps informed the City that the need for additional water supply was supported by the data provided by the City, but the City’s recreational needs are not supported by the data. The City was informed that the Corps needs to be an active participant in the recreational needs study. Also the Corps informed the City that if the recreation study provides sufficient data to support the inclusion of recreation in the projects purpose and need, then a public notice would be issued to solicit public comments for any alternatives that may address both water supply and water based recreation as previous public involvement actions were primarily focused on water supply.
On March 29, 2019-By letter, the Corps restated in writing the above summary from the March 22nd video conference.
On May 3, 2019-By letter, the City notified the Corps that they are seeking proposals from firms to perform a recreation needs and benefits analysis, which may or may not equate to the requested recreation demand/needs study that we requested. The City also requested that if recreation is supported that no public meeting is needed. The City also brought up scenarios for receiving stream mitigation credits for not placing two dams on the Sangamon River for emergency water supply. The letter also discussed the City supplying water to other regional communities and discussed concerns for potential algal blooms on Lake Springfield.
On July 7, 2019, By letter, the Corps acknowledged the City’s efforts in getting proposals for a conducting a recreation needs study. The Corps responded that if the recreation needs study supports including recreation in the project purpose and need in the EIS, then a public notice will be issued stating this and a public meeting may be required depending on the comments received. Regarding the City’s comments about stream mitigation found in their May 3rd letter, the Corps informed them that stream mitigation credits are not allowed for avoidance in putting dams on a river and that the City should refer to the Illinois Stream Mitigation Method for additional guidance.
On August 29, 2019, By letter, the City states that the IDNR outdoor recreation report submitted in December 2018 should be adequate for the recreation study. They also stated that if the IDNR report cannot be used then the City should be allowed to use the University of Illinois (U of I) to perform the recreation study, as the City had objected to sending out an RFP (request for proposal) to seek bids for a recreation study.
(Note: the Corps had previously found the IDNR report to be inadequate for the purposes of the recreation demand/need study. The Corps had previously reviewed a U of I proposal for conducting a recreation study and found it lacking in direction of what we are trying to study).
On September 17, 2019, By conference call with the City Water Manager, the Corps informed the City that the Corps will allow the U of I to do the recreation study if the U of I demonstrate that they can do the recreation study based on the recreation study requirements of a draft RFP developed by the Corps and 3rd party contractor. If the U of I cannot demonstrate that they can do the recreation study based on these requirements, the Corps requests that an RFP be sent out by the City seeking proposals from other firms who can demonstrate that they can do the recreation study.
On December 20, 2019, By letter, the Corps notified the City that they have reviewed the U of I’s recreation analysis study proposal and found that it meets the Corps needs for the recreation demand study required for the Springfield Supplemental Water SEIS. The Corps notified the City that the next step is for the City to contract with the U of I, as a 3rd party contractor, to perform the recreation study in accordance with the U of I’s study proposal and working under the direction of the Corps.
On February 4, 2020, By conference call with the City, they notified the Corps that the Springfield City Council has voted to approve funding for the U of I to perform a recreation demand analysis study for the Springfield Supplemental Water SEIS.
Senators: Richard Durbin (IL), Tammy Duckworth (IL)
Representatives: IL-13 (Rodney Davis), IL-18 (Darin LaHood)
RG – Regulatory
Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act
Summarized Project Costs
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Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2020: Complete draft SEIS, make available for public comment, hold public meeting(s), finalize Record of Decision (ROD).