PN-23-47 NAB-2019-00489-P13 (Pennsylvania Department of General Services/Butternut Creek Flood Protection Project)

Published Oct. 26, 2023
Expiration date: 11/25/2023

                         Public Notice
U.S. Army Corps              In Reply to Application Number: NAB-2019-00489-P13
of Engineers                    (Pennsylvania Department of General

Baltimore District               Services/Butternut Creek Flood Protection Project)
PN-23-47                          Comment Period: October 26, 2023 to November 25, 2023


This District has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 USC 1344),as described below:


                       Pennsylvania Department of General Services
                       Attn: Mr. Bryan Anthony
                       18th and Herr Streets
                       Harrisburg, PA 17125


The proposed project is located adjacent to West Fifth Street, along Butternut Creek, in Mount Carmel Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. (Latitude: 40.793463; Longitude: -76.423002).


To construct a flood protection project along Butternut Creek to provide flood protection for the 1% annual chance flood (100-year flood) for the residents in Mount Carmel, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.


To construct approximately 1,564 linear feet of cast-in-place concrete rectangular channel with approximately 125 linear feet of trapezoidal grouted riprap channel downstream of the concrete channel. Project will permanently impact 1,750 linear feet (0.32 acres) of Butternut Creek, a perennial stream that flows directly into Shamokin Creek.


The United States Army Corps of Engineers, as the lead federal agency, is responsible for all coordination pursuant to applicable federal authorities.


Impacts to aquatic resources from the proposed project are unavoidable due to the severe site constraints of this altered and urban setting and from a history of coal mining activities. Pennsylvania’s Function-Based Aquatic Resources Compensation Protocol will be used to determine the amount of compensatory mitigation required.


The applicant has investigated seven (7) project on-site project alternatives during the project design process. The project alternatives are as follows:

Alternative 1: Buyout of Flood Prone Structures

This alternative would require the buyout of 6 homes, 16 townhouses, 4 businesses, a personal care facility, and a newly constructed apartment building. These buyouts would carry significant expense, which could not be funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection flood protection program. In addition, this alternative does not address the public safety risks associated with flooding including inundation and impacts to roadways during high.

Alternative 2: Remove Sediment, Debris, and Existing Walls in Channel

The removal of sediment, accumulated debris, and existing walls that are deteriorating would improve flow within the channel banks. Removal of trees growing along the channel banks and the overgrowth of vegetation in and around the channel would reduce constrictions and reduce future accumulation of debris in the channel. Continuous maintenance of the natural channel would be required on a periodic basis as well as after storm events. Flooding would be reduced for smaller storm events. However, annual, or semi-annual storm events and storm events that cause backwater form Shamokin Creek to inundate the areas outside the banks of Butternut Creek would still exist. The homes and businesses along Butternut Creek would still experience flooding.

Alternative 3: Improve Culvert at West Third Street

The culvert at the West Third Street is a 14-foot wide by 8-foot-high reinforced concrete box culvert constructed in the early 1960s. Replacing the culvert with a precast reinforced concrete with greater conveyance capacity would provide marginal improvement to the hydraulics in the immediate vicinity of the culvert. The existing culvert, however, is already adequately sized to pass the Butternut Creek 100-year flow during supercritical flow conditions. Limited the project to just replace the West Third Street culvert with a larger capacity culvert would not prevent the backwater flooding from Shamokin Creek form overtopping the banks of Butternut Creek and flooding the surrounding properties.

Alternative 4: Upstream Detention Dam within Existing Drainage System

The construction of a detention dam would reduce the Butternut Creek peak flow and prevent flooding. However, Butternut Creek will still experience backwater from Shamokin Creek resulting in flooding from Shamokin Creek high water events. A detention basin would need to be located within the Borough, likely located at the upstream end of the project, to be effective; this would require purchasing property for the detention basin due to the existing development within the Borough. As with Alternative 1, funding is not available for property buyouts. In addition, construction would require disturbance of a large area, which could have unknown environmental impacted related to the potential for release of contaminated soils due to the acid mine runoff.

Alternative 5: Concrete Floodwalls

Concrete floodwalls approximately 11.5 feet high would be required for the approximate 1,550 linear feet of stream channel to contain the 100-year flood with no freeboard. However, the roughness of the existing natural stream channel induces subcritical flow throughout the channel which overtops the channel banks. Construction of these floodwalls require large foundations that would require significant excavations and backfill which would have the potential for release of contaminated soils due to the acid mine runoff. Also, these large floodwall foundations would require demolishing and removing multiple residences and businesses in many areas. As with previous alternatives, property buyouts cannot be funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection flood protection program.

Alternative 6: Compacted Earthen Levees

In lieu of constructing concrete floodwalls along the channel, compacted earthen levees could be constructed along both banks of the channel to contain the 100-year flood. Construction of an earthen levee to an elevation 8-feet higher than the channel banks along Butternut Creek to contain the Shamokin Creek 100-year backwater elevation would require a base width of at least 42 feet. Due to the development along the channel, the construction of an earthen levee is not feasible. In addition, the large footprint of disturbance required would carry increased risk of encountering contamination soils.

Alternative 7: Channel Improvements (Rectangular Concrete Open Channel) – Applicant’s Preferred Alternative

Construction of a rectangular reinforced concrete open channel with a top of wall elevation of 1043.5 at the downstream end would contain the 100-year backwater from Shamokin Creek. The reminder of the concrete channel (approximately 1,500 liner feet) would require walls approximately 7.5 feet high to meet the project purpose and needs. Since the wall foundations are essentially within the channel flow area, concrete open channels can be constructed in tight areas where there are structures in proximity, due to the narrow excavation limits. Limiting the extent of excavation also minimizes the risk of encountering contaminated soils due to the reduced construction footprint. The concrete channel would provide a smooth and efficient channel invert resulting in increased flow velocity and decreased water surface elevations by inducing supercritical flow within the channel. A low flow invert would direct the base flow to the center of the channel to aid in sediment transport through the channel, greatly reducing the need to sediment removal. This alternative requires paving approximately 1,550 linear feet of existing natural-bottom stream channel with concrete which will likely require mitigation efforts. Per the applicant’s mitigation statement, this alternative is the only technically viable alternative that meets the project purpose and need, and hence is the applicant’s preferred alternative for this project.


This project will be evaluated pursuant to Corps Regulatory Program Regulations (33 CFR Parts 320-332). The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonable may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors, which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economic, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, and consideration of property ownership and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The evaluation of the impact of this project will also include application of the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency.


A preliminary review of this application indicates that the proposed work is not likely to adversely affect federally listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. As the evaluation of this application continues, additional information may become available which could modify this preliminary determination.


The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 04-267), requires all federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), including species of concern, life cycle habitat, or Habitat Areas of Particular Concern. The project site does not lie in or adjacent to EFH as described under MSFCMA for managed species under the MSFCMA. The Baltimore District has made a preliminary determination that the project is not within EFH. The Baltimore District has made a preliminary determination that mitigative measures are not required to minimize adverse effects on EFH at this time. This determination may be modified if additional information indicates otherwise.


Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and applicable guidance, the Corps has reviewed the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places and initially determined that no registered properties listed as eligible for inclusion, therein, are located at the site of the proposed work. The Corps has made the preliminary determination that the proposed project would have no effect on historic properties. The Corps final eligibility and effect determination will be based on coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office as appropriate and required, and with full consideration given to the proposed undertaking’s potential direct and indirect effects on historic properties within the Corps’ identified permit area.


Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act also requires federal agencies to consult with federally recognized American Indian tribes that attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties that may be affected by the agency’s undertaking. Corps Tribal Consultation Policy mandates an open, timely, meaningful, collaborative, and effective deliberative communication process that emphasizes trust, respect, and shared responsibility. The policy further emphasizes that, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, consultation works toward mutual consensus and begins at the earliest planning stages before decisions are made and actions taken. The Corps final eligibility and effect determination will be based on coordination with interested tribes, in accordance with the Corps current tribal standard operating procedures as appropriate and required, and with full consideration given to the proposed undertaking’s potential direct and indirect effects on tribal resources.


All Section 408 proposals will be coordinated internally at the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Section 408 decision will be issued along with the Section 404 and/or Section 10 decision. Please see the following link for more information regarding Section 408:


The applicant is required to obtain a water quality certification in accordance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.


Where applicable, the applicant has certified in this application that the proposed activity complies with and will be conducted in a manner consistent with the approved Coastal Zone Management Program. By this public notice, we are requesting the state concurrence or objection to the applicant’s consistency statement.

The applicant must obtain any state or local government permits which may be required.


The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments provided will become part of the public record for this action and are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

Written comments concerning the work described above related to the factors listed above or other pertinent factors must be received by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District within the comment period specified above through postal mail at the address below or electronic submission to the project manager email address below. Written comments should reference the Application Number NAB-2019-00489-P13.


Any person who has an interest which may be adversely affected by the issuance of this permit may request a public hearing. The request, which must be in writing, must be received within the comment period as specified above to receive consideration. Also, it must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected by this activity and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected. The public hearing request may be submitted by electronic mail or mailed to the following address:

Amy Elliott
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
Regulatory Branch
1631 South Atherton Street
Suite 101
State College, PA 16801

It is requested that you communicate this information concerning the proposed work to any persons known by you to be interested, who did not receive a copy of this notice.

General information regarding the Corps’ permitting process can be found on our website at This public notice has been prepared in accordance with Corps implementing regulations at 33 CFR 325.3. If you have any questions concerning this specific project or would like to request a paper copy of this public notice, please contact Amy Elliott, at 814-235-0573, or at This public notice is issued by the Chief, Regulatory Branch.