Final Rehabilitation and Modification of Mooring Piers at the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers Collection & Removal of Drift Program

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
Published April 15, 2021

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, has assessed the environmental effects of the Rehabilitation/Modification of Mooring Piers at the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers Collection & Removal of Drift (“DC Drift”) Program, located at 1125 O Street SE, Washington DC.

The DC Drift Program was authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1965, Section 301 (Public Law 89-298). The program conducts drift removal operations on a year-round basis and provides benefits to navigation by reducing damages, financial loss and safety hazards to commercial and recreational vessels, their operators and docking facilities. The DC Drift Program protects environmental habitat, improves water quality and aesthetics, and expands public access within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The DC Drift Program is planning to perform rehabilitation and modification of the mooring piers in the Anacostia River at the USACE DC Drift field office dock, in order to accommodate a new barge-mounted crane that would be used to aid in the offloading of debris collected by the DC Drift Program vessels. The previously used crane is no longer operational.

The environmental assessment was prepared in compliance with NEPA and supporting regulations promulgated by the Council on Environmental Quality and the USACE. Three alternatives were considered and evaluated for this project: the no-action alternative (Alternative #1), the removal of 20 existing pilings by cutting them off at the mud line and installation of 9 new pilings (Alternative #2-proposed action), and the complete removal of the 20 existing pilings (including those portions of the pilings below the mud line) and installation of 9 new pilings (Alternative #3).

Potential impacts to aquatic resources; terrestrial resources; threatened and endangered species; hazardous, toxic and radioactive substances; cultural resources; and social welfare were assessed.

Short-term, minor, adverse impacts from the proposed project include air emissions, temporary minor impacts to water quality and essential fish habitat, temporary and localized impacts to underwater noise during installation of the new pilings, and temporary partial blockage of the Federal navigation channel during construction.

Known contaminants potentially present along the sediment bottom of the Anacostia River due to historical anthropogenic activities include non-aqueous phase liquids, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and pesticides. Best management practices recommended by the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and the Environment would be implemented to reduce potential impacts to water quality from the proposed action. Turbidity curtains would be installed prior to construction activities and maintained throughout the construction process to minimize the migration of suspended sediment. Oil absorbing booms would also be in place, maintained and replaced as needed, throughout the construction process. USACE and its contractors would also monitor, contain, and remove any sheens and/or free product that is encountered during the construction of the project. No impacts to cultural resources or properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places are expected.

The accompanying environmental assessment, which was made available for a 15-day public review, supports the conclusion that the project does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Therefore, an environmental impact statement is not necessary to perform the rehabilitation and modification of mooring piers at the DC Drift Program field office dock.