CONCORD, Mass. – Eversource Energy of Westwood, Mass., is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with replacing an electric cable from South Boston to Deer Island, Mass.
This work is proposed within Boston Harbor between the Massport - Conley Marine Terminal Facility off of Farragut Road in South Boston and the MWRA - Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Facility on Tafts Avenue in Winthrop. The purpose of this project is to install a replacement 115kV electric Harbor Electric Energy Company (HEEC) cable between the South Boston K Street Substation and the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Facility. The removal and/or abandonment of the existing HEEC cable will be addressed as part of a separate action.
Eversource Energy's proposed submarine cable route is approximately 2.73 miles in length. For 2.10 miles of the crossing, the applicant proposes to install the electric cable using a hydroplow. As part of the hydroplow installation the electric cable will be buried a minimum of 6 feet below the sea floor. The proposed hydroplow cable route includes direct impacts to at least 365 linear feet of eelgrass beds. Eversource Energy proposes to complete a pre-pass survey of the hydroplow cable route in 2018 to detect any sub-surface obstructions. More extensive construction methods will be used if obstructions preclude a hydroplow installation of the replacement HEEC electric cable. This alternative work may require an additional public notice.
The applicant proposes to horizontally directional drill (HDD) to install a conduit for the electric cable along the westernmost 3,000 linear feet of this crossing. Eversource Energy will be required to install this conduit below the -75 foot mean lower low water (MLLW) elevation under the Boston Harbor Main Shipping Channel Federal Navigation Project (FNP) and associated buffer areas. Eversource Energy plans also to use HDD to access onto Deer Island (approximately 500 linear feet). Divers will hand excavate small areas of seafloor at the transitions between the HDD and the hydroplow cable installation segments.
This proposed project will have an adverse effect on 1-2 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists mainly of soft bottom (sandy/silty mud) sub-tidal areas with some localized eelgrass beds. Disruption of these habitat areas may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. The Corps has made a preliminary determination that site-specific impacts may be substantial. Accordingly, the Corps will submit an expanded EFH assessment to the National Marine Fisheries Service, who in turn will provide conservation recommendations to the Corps. The Corps will coordinate with the applicant regarding implementation of these recommendations. The EFH consultation will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands.
The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by Eversource Energy, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on this work proposed by Eversource Energy (file # NAE-2016-1163) should be forwarded no later than March 1, 2018 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Paul Sneeringer), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Paul Sneeringer at 978-318-8491 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: email@example.com.