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Manchester Waterway Lock Removal / Alligator Bay EMA

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In 1974, General Development Corporation (GDC) installed the Manchester Waterway Lock as required by the Department of Pollution Control (DPC) and US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The purpose of the lock was to hold back the water allowing it to sheetflow over marsh areas and be cleaned naturally before entering Charlotte Harbor. Charlotte County accepted the responsibility for the lock after GDC filed bankruptcy in 1991. In 1998, Charlotte County hired Environmental, Inc. to evaluate permitting options for removal of the Manchester Waterway Lock. Removal of the lock required a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Corps. It was determined that the best regulatory approach to obtain permission to remove the lock was to enter into an Ecosystem Management Agreement (EMA) and obtain an Ecosystem Management Permit (EMP). This process is an alternative to traditional permitting that provides a comprehensive, coordinated approach to regional development and provides greater environmental benefits. The EMA process allows a state agency and a regulated party to convene the full range of stakeholders affected by a potential enforcement issue, and to jointly develop with them a package of measures or projects that collectively provide a net ecosystem benefit, an outcome better for the environment, when compared with the results of conventional enforcement action. Use of a binding EMA is voluntary and detailed in Section 403.0752, Florida Statutes. To enter into an EMA, an applicant must demonstrate that a net ecosystem benefit will result over and above the environmental standards required by traditional permitting.

Since as early as November 17, 1998, Charlotte County, a team of regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders began meeting as the “Alligator Bay Ecosystem Management Permit Team”. This team met every month or so and worked in a pre-application mode to review the draft EMP permit application and to develop innovative and creative solutions that would result in a net environmental benefit. These meetings continued until the EMP permit application was received by DEP on February 14, 2003 (attached). Charlotte County applied to the Department for a permit/water quality certification and authorization to use sovereign submerged lands owned by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund (Board of Trustees) to conduct a project that involved the removal of the Manchester Waterway Boat Lock in the Manchester Waterway (Class III Waters) along with several Net Ecosystem Benefit (NEB) projects, pursuant to 403.075, Florida Statutes, as part of an overall ecosystem management plan for Alligator Bay, Class III Outstanding Florida Waters, Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve. The Applicant began working with the Department, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and other stakeholders since 1999 to negotiate the scope of the proposed project and Net Ecosystem Benefits. The parties entered the Ecosystem Management Agreement dated March 2002 that designated the Department as the lead regulatory agency to review the Environmental Resource Application to remove the Manchester Lock and to implement the NEBs.

The removal of the Manchester Lock involved the removal of the existing Manchester Waterway Boat Lock structure. The construction entailed the abandonment, demolition, and removal of the structural components, excavation of 3,340 cubic yards of material to create a continuous line of construction along the shoreline. The project also included the stabilization of this shoreline with a Fabriform Revetment Material, which is a double layer articulating non-staggered block style revetment system. The lock and associated debris was disposed of in an upland location. The project included the following NEBs:

  1. A phased sewer expansion - The Applicant will include in the Charlotte County Sewer Expansion Plan those portions of the Alligator Bay drainage basin that have been shown to contribute to declining water quality (pre-1983 septic tanks). The project will provide sewer services to an area that is a high-density, single-family residential area with a high concentration of pre-1983 septic tanks. This NEB is to provide an improvement to water quality by decreasing nutrient loading from removing the septic systems.

  2. County on-site disposal system pump-out certification-The Applicant will set in place an Ordinance that will address the operation of onsite disposal systems (septic tanks) within 300 feet of a canal or open surface water of certain areas within Charlotte County and to ensure that septage is disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. This NEB will provide an improvement to water quality by decreasing nutrient loading from the septic systems within 300' of canals and surface waters.

  3. A bathymetric canal study and improvements within 1.5 miles of the outfall of Alligator Bay-The Applicant is to identify the inadvertent digging of deep h01es created when the canal system of the Manchester Waterway System was created. Deep pockets, i.e. greater than 10 feet in depth, are likely to contribute to low dissolved oxygen levels and hypoxia. This NEB will provide information for an improvement to water quality from deep water areas and uneven bottom contours which result in poor flushing and decreased levels of dissolved oxygen.

  4. Restoration of canal system to permitted depths by filling of deep holes identified by the bathymetric study in canals with 1.5 miles of Alligator Bay-The Applicant will ameliorate the inadvertent digging of deep holes created when the canal system of the Manchester Waterway System was created. Deep pockets, i.e. greater than 10 feet in depth, are likely to contribute to low dissolved oxygen levels and hypoxia. This NEB will provide an improvement to water quality from deep-water areas and uneven bottom contours which result in poor flushing and decreased levels of dissolved oxygen.

  5. Island habitat restoration-The Applicant will enhance, by removal of exotic and nuisance vegetation, maintain and monitor islands that exist within the Manchester Waterway, West Spring Lake, and East Spring Lake. This NEB will provide an improvement for wildlife habitat and a reduction of a seed source for exotic and nuisance vegetation in the general project area.

  6. Marsh habitat restoration on Charlotte Harbor State Buffer Preserve land south of the Manchester Waterway-The Applicant will restore an area where an old mosquito ditch exists. Mosquito ditches were dredged in the high marsh, i.e. salt tern areas, in the early 1960's. This NEB will provide an improvement to the adjacent marsh system in both wildlife utilization and hydrology.

  7. Provision of rip-rap obstructions in order to block navigational access by motorized vessels, yet still allow ,for use of shallow draft non-motorized vessels-The Applicant will block motorized vessel usage from certain areas. This NEB will provide a navigational block to motorized vessels, thus reducing turbidity and propeller scarring, and still allow for shallow draft non-motorized vessels such as kayaks and canoes.

  8. Restoration of Lewis Creek oxbow connection-The Applicant will restore a connection to Lewis Creek. This NEB will provide hydrologic restoration to Lewis Creek and improve water quality and wildlife utilization.

  9. A commitment to good-faith land acquisition or FCT application to purchase parcel 5100- The Applicant will negotiate in good faith to purchase parcel 5100 (29.68 acres) east of the Manchester Waterway that is currently in private ownership and adjoining the Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve. If negotiations fail to produce outright purchase of this property (within 360 days of permit issuance), the Applicant will develop and submit a Florida Communities Trust (FCT) application for this property and other applicable parcels adjoining the Buffer Preserve and in private ownership in the Manchester Waterway area. This NEB will provide an increase in area for the protection, preservation, management, and restoration of wildlife and of natural resources.

  10. Development of anAlligator Bay Awareness Program-The Applicant will develop a community based Alligator Bay Awareness Program to heighten community identity of Alligator Bay and factors that may contribute to water quality problems (i.e. violations of 62-302 FAC). The Applicant proposes to focus on enhancing the community's knowledge of their geographical location within the drainage basin to provide a sense of place for the consequences of their actions. The Awareness program will also include an Alligator Bay educational program for school age children. At a minimum, the Awareness Program will include drainage basin signage, direct mailings to Alligator Bay residents, a standard presentation such as a PowerPoint or video for civic events, and the formulation of an Alligator Bay logo for identification. This NEB will provide an increasing the community's knowledge of their geographical location within the drainage basin to provide a sense of place for the consequences of their actions.

  11. Stormwater improvements for the Manchester drainage basin-This NEB is to provide treatment for all lots in the Manchester Drainage Basin totaling 448.6 acres.
     

Documents on the Manchester Waterway Lock Removal can be found in the DEP's OCULUS Electronic Document Management System.  Here is the direct link to the electronic records:  Manchester Waterway Lock

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Gillen

Environmental Manager

(239) 344-5646

 

 

 

Last updated: September 11, 2013
  South District, 2295 Victoria Avenue, Fort Myers, Florida 33901 239-344-5600 / 850-412-0590(fax) / SouthDistrict@dep.state.fl.us
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