Currently FEMA is processing our reimbursement application as one sum of approximately $36M which includes $28M for seawall replacement and $8M for mitigation efforts to ensure that replaced seawall does not experience the same tragedy as happened in 2017. A couple weeks ago FEMA notified the City that riprap is specifically excluded from our Army Corps permit and therefore reimbursement of for the seawall project cannot proceed until the permits are in order. Staff met with Army Corps on November 16, 2018 and discussed the riprap issue. Apparently riprap is a concern for the Army Corps and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in that it is detrimental to the small tooth sawfish, a protected species. Staff has identified that there are three places where riprap is used in the proposed project:
- Armoring below outfall pipes
- Replacement of existing riprap throughout the canal system
- Proposed riprap along much of the newly replace seawall placed as a mitigation effort
Both a) and b) above are critical to the replacement of the seawalls and apparently have a much higher probability of expedited permitting. The mitigation portion of the project, item c) involves more complex permitting issues and could require an extended review time and likely will necessitate hiring an environmental consultant to supply the backup necessary to garner such permits.
Staff will continue discussions with Army Corps and FEMA but would like permission to separate the construction project from the mitigation request to hopefully keep reimbursement on track for the $28M seawall replacement project.