ALERT: Corps of Engineers Releases Draft of Environmental Impact Statement for Public Review & Comment

ALERT: Corps of Engineers Releases
Draft of Environmental Impact Statement for Public Review & Comment

Public meeting in Apalachicola on November 9, 2015

Water Control Manual

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is updating its operating manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river system – the river system that Apalachicola Bay depends on for freshwater and nutrients to stay healthy and productive. The Corps of Engineers last updated its ACF Master Water Control Manual in 1958. Since then, several factors including severe drought, increased population and large agricultural irrigation operations have contributed to a decline in the productivity of Apalachicola Bay. It is imperative that the Corps’ rewrite of its manual revises the way it manages the flow of freshwater needed to maintain the extraordinary richness and productivity of the Apalachicola River, Floodplain and Bay ecosystem.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

As part of the process to update the Water Control Manual, the US Corps of Engineers must complete an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. An EIS is required to consider alternatives to the proposed action and the prospective impacts of the Corps’ operations must be disclosed to the public in advance.

The Corps uses the EIS as a tool for decision making. The draft EIS articulates how the Corps intends to balance the need to implement an action with the potential impacts those actions will have on the surrounding human and natural environment. The EIS also identifies opportunities where those impacts might be mitigated while keeping the cost and schedule for implementing the action under control. On October 2, 2015, the US Corps of Engineers released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (PDF download) to the public for review and comment. The public has 60 days from the release date to review and comment on the document.

In response to the Corps’ release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement, Florida’s congressional delegation issued a joint press release.

More news on this important issue:
Apalachicola Braces for Army Corps Water Plan
Florida Legislators call on Army Corps to Revise ACF Work Plan

Call to Action

Public input into the Corps’ draft Environmental Impact Statement is critical! How much does the Apalachicola River and Bay mean to you, your family, your community, your livelihood?

A way of life for an entire region may not survive without public intervention into the Corps’ management of the water in this river system, specifically the Corps’ management of the quantity and timing of the flow of freshwater from the Apalachicola River and to its Bay.

This is a rare opportunity and the best chance individuals have to influence the Corps’ management of the freshwater flows to the Apalachicola Bay. This spectacular part of our natural world is one of the richest, most diverse eco-systems in the world.

Those who care about the river and bay must speak out now in a collective effort to ensure that all of the river basin’s riparian communities, and the plants, animals, marine life, and the fishing industry are still here in the future!

The economy in our riparian counties depends on the health of our river. The Apalachicola River and Bay is the last ecosystem of its kind…anywhere, making this so much more than “a local issue”. As a national resource, the Apalachicola Basin is an ecological and cultural treasure.

The river’s floodplain is the biological factory that fuels the productivity of Apalachicola Bay. Today, because the Corps management of the river system’s dams and reservoirs prioritizes all other authorized uses of the river’s water over the conservation, preservation and long-term sustainability of the ecosystem itself, the Apalachicola River receives less and less freshwater and we are losing the ecological functions of the Apalachicola’s Floodplain and Bay.

Public Comment

A public review of the Corps of Engineers draft EIS is a required part of the process to update the Water Control Manual and public input into the EIS is extremely important. It is imperative that concerned individuals exercise their right to submit comments on the Corps’ draft EIS in writing and/or tell the Corps of Engineers in-person by attending one of their public “open house style” meetings.

Public comments can be sent to ACF-WCM@usace.army.mil by December 1, 2015.

Please speak up on behalf of the river and bay. In writing and in-person, you can make a difference.

Tell the Corps THIS: “the health, productivity and sustainability of the Apalachicola River, Floodplain, Bay and the Gulf are critical to our economy and cultural heritage. The Corp of Engineers MUST give fair and equal consideration to Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the Apalachicola ecosystem as they do the other authorized purposes of the ACF river system.”

Please attend the (only) public meeting scheduled in Florida!!

Date: November 9th  in Franklin County
Time: 4:00pm
and ends at 7:00pm (EDT)
Location: Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, 108 Island Drive, Eastpoint, FL 32328

Note: Apalachicola Riverkeeper is currently reviewing the details of the 4000+ page EIS document to develop our formal written response. Given the volume of information in the document, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, along with Florida Conservation Coalition, Florida Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation and 1000 Friends of Florida has submitted a written request to the Corps asking that the comment period be extended to allow for sufficient review of the draft EIS.

Letter Requesting Comment Period Extension (PDF)

The draft EIS and appendices are available to the public for review in the following formats:

  • Online as PDF documents at by clicking here
  • As a CD when requested in writing to: Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Attn: PD-EI (ACT-EIS), P.O. Box 2288, Mobile AL 36628
  • The time, date and locations for public meetings being held in Georgia and Alabama are here