NAEP Announces the 2013 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

President’s Award -
Project Name: 34th America’s Cup EIR/EA and Permitting
Award Presented to: San Francisco Planning Department, Port of San Francisco, America’s Cup Event Authority, Environmental Science Associates, Orion Environmental Associates, U.S. Coast Guard, The National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Presidio Trust
This summer San Francisco will host international sailing’s premier race, the 34th America’s Cup, and it is expected to draw over 5 million visitors. Historically, large sporting events have been exempt from environmental review and permitting. But, due to the scale of this project and the sensitivity of the Bay and shoreline, regulatory agencies and the public called for extensive environmental review.  When San Francisco was awarded AC34 December 31, 2010, the City realized the event’s large influx of people and infrastructure triggered assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (San Francisco contains two National Parks). The regulatory agencies have stringent requirements under these Acts and compliance typically takes years. With AC34’s preliminary races in August 2012, all documents had to be certified and corresponding permits issued in less than 18 months. A joint document was considered, however, given the differing agency permitting needs, it was determined that course would jeopardize schedule.

Given the time constraints of AC34, a NEPA/CEQA process was designed that both supported and paralleled permitting requirements. Testament to the success of this approach is the issuance of permits from five separate agencies within months of document certification. Yet the most successful outcome of the project was the unique suite of mitigation measures. These included a new shoreside power facility to reduce long term air pollutant emissions from large vessels, extensive coordination with local transit agencies, water quality measures to protect bay habitats and control invasive species, and clear signage, restrictions and monitoring to protect nesting birds and marine mammals.

Best Available Environmental Technology Award –
Project Name:  San Diego Gas & Electric, Sunrise Powerlink Electronic Environmental Monitoring & Compliance Tools
Award Presented to:  San Diego Gas & Electric Company

During construction of the Sunrise Powerlink Project, SDG&E placed safety and environmental compliance at the forefront and, as such, realized the need to implement state of the art tools and processes to support compliance on the Project.

The electronic environmental monitoring and compliance tools implemented provided users with an application on mobile PCs that enhanced communication with the entire project team through web based technologies.  The tools leveraged cutting edge GIS technologies, GPS, and mobile computers to integrate office and field activities, resulting in one integrated team. The tools were available across the entire project team including SDG&E staff, contract staff and regulatory agencies.  The tools allowed all appropriate Project stakeholders to see up to date information from both field and office activities and use this information to make informed decisions.

Conservation Programs Award –
Project Name: Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility Expansion Phase 3
Award Presented to:  David M. Dixon Stanley Consultants, Robbin Levar Sarasota County, Peter Peduzzi Sarasota County, Michael Elfers Assistant Construction Engineer, Joseph Clark Stanley Consultants, Ronnie Van Fleet PWS, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Dunkelberger Engineering and Testing, Geotechnical Engineering , DMK Associates, Land Surveying, Brooks and Freund/Lee Mar, Prime Contractors, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Design Engineers of Record

The $6.8 million project is a flood protection, stormwater treatment and wetland mitigation project designed to provide treatment for over 3,500 acres of stormwater runoff of north-central Sarasota County within the Phillippi Creek drainage basin. The Celery Fields are an area once used extensively for row crops such as celery since the early part of the 20th century. Prior to its agricultural use, it was a low lying area of extensive wetlands and sawgrass marshes. This project sought to restore the treatment function the original wetland had for drainage to Sarasota Bay. Another benefit of this project is the flood protection it offers to the downstream urban area that saw extensive flooding of structures in the no-name storm of June 1992.

The individual components of this project include adding 260 acre-feet of floodplain storage area with two major water control structures, 115 acres of wetland mitigation plantings in the Walker Tract and South Mitigation Cell, culvert replacement and upsizing on Leewynn Place.  It also includes grading and hydraulic improvements to Canal CA, creation of an 85-foot high observation hill with mountain bicycle trails and pedestrian walking paths, a stormwater treatment lake and piping infrastructure for the future Cattlemen Road project, utility adjustments and site preparation for six County-owned land parcels.  It also includes a shell parking lot for a future Audubon Society nature interpretive center that will provide information about birding opportunities and Sarasota's history in this area.

Education Excellence Award
Project Name:  Vasquez  Rocks  Natural Area Park Interpretive Center Project
Award Presented to: County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, Sapphos Environmental, Inc.

The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (Park) Interpretive Center Project (project) was undertaken by the County of Los Angeles (County) to enhance the experience of visitors by increasing their knowledge and appreciation of the unique cultural, geological, and natural resources present at the 932-acre Park.
The new Interpretive Center is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) New Construction (NC) Platinum-certified, 3,700-square-foot building that includes a multi- purpose classroom/museum with interpretive exhibits, office space for Park staff, and landscaping consisting of drought-tolerant plants and shrubs. Construction of the project included historic restoration and adaptive reuse of the Ranger’s Residence, a National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible building located adjacent to the new facility.

Environmental Stewardship Award –
Project Name:  San Joaquin River Restoration Program,Program Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report
Award Presented to: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Water Resources, MWH Americas

The San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP) Program Environmental Impact Statement/Report (PEIS/R) represents the culmination of more than 20 years of debate over the fate of the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley and is a major national achievement involving national organizations, Federal, State and local agencies and companies. It balances the competing interests of five Federal and State of California Implementing Agencies and two Settling Parties, National Environmental Policy Act and California Environmental Quality Act compliance, and the long-term implementation needs of the SJRRP, while thoroughly addressing concerns raised by landowners, stakeholders, and the interested public.

The SJRRP PEIS/R is the result of six years of collaboration among the Implementing Agencies and Settling Parties despite competing interests, and demonstrates innovative integration of decision making with environmental regulatory processes. The SJRRP will restore spring-run Chinook salmon, a federally and state listed threatened species, to a

153-mile long reach of the San Joaquin River, and provide numerous benefits to other fish, vegetation, and wildlife species. Simultaneously, the SJRRP is designed to avoid or minimize water supply impacts to the Friant Division water contractors who use water diverted from the San Joaquin River in one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation.  The PEIS/EIR provides a roadmap for implementing this historic program, making a national contribution to the environment in a manner that achieves the program goals while avoiding adverse impacts to numerous third parties.

Environmental Management Award–
Project Name:  Croton Water Filtration Plant
Award Presented to: Grimshaw Architects, Great Ecology, WORKSHOP:  Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Rana Creek, Sherwood Design Engineers, Atelier Ten,Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners, Buro Happold, Amman and Whitney, ARUP Lighting

The Croton watershed region was perennially exposed to the threat of contamination due to stormwater runoff. To ensure the watershed’s continued viability and compliance with drinking water regulations, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is constructing the Croton Water Treatment Plant, the City’s largest infrastructure project.

The filtration plant will be sunk approximately eighty feet below ground, with a nine-acre green roof – the largest in the country, and surrounded by a wetland stormwater and groundwater management system designed by Great Ecology as part of the Grimshaw Architects team. The constructed wetlands mirror naturally occurring water features to process and improve water quality and recycle it for on-site irrigation.

This project is notable for the exceptionally large scale and efficient manner in which constructed wetlands perform critical ecosystem functions to minimize stormwater runoff, increase floodwater holding capacity, reduce or eliminate discharge of water, and reduce the use of potable water on site by the reuse of retained storm and groundwater. These features are integrated with the site’s programmatic elements; the continuous pumping of groundwater and the increased amount of stormwater runoff from the roof and surrounding landscape create a surplus of water on the site. The created wetland

habitats will not only clean the site’s air and water, but will also attract wildlife species, increasing the integrity of urban ecosystems and providing environmental education opportunities.

NEPA Excellence Award –
Project Name: State Route 11 and the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry
Award Presented to:  HELIX Environmental Planning and Caltrans District 11 With FHWA, SANDAG, U.S. GSA, U.S. CBP and AECOM

Long and unpredictable border wait times for vehicles act as a barrier to trade and personal travel, inhibiting cross-border economic investment opportunities and commercial activity.  The State Route 11 and the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project provides much-needed additional border crossing capacity at the United States (U.S.)/Mexico border between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California. Objectives  of the program include: increasing regional inspection capacities for commercial/personal vehicles and pedestrians, reducing northbound vehicle/pedestrian queues and wait times, accommodating existing unmet demand and projected future increases in international commercial trade and personal vehicle border traffic, as well as contributing to reduced congestion at border crossings and along regional transportation infrastructure, accommodating commercial goods movement and cross-border travel, minimizing impacts to the aquatic environment, accommodating bicycle- and transit- related border traffic and supporting international border-related agreements.

The project team employed a unique two-tiered NEPA process that also complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Tier I addressed SR-11 and the Port of Entry within a programmatic EIR/EIS and identified the preferred location for these two interdependent facilities. Implementation of Tier I made it possible for the project proponents to secure a Presidential Permit for the proposed border crossing from the U.S. Department of State in 2008, prior to expending substantial public funds for project design.  It eliminated the need to undertake detailed project design for more than one highway corridor and POE site.  The selected location minimized biological resources impacts and was preferred by the permitting resource agencies.  The team then prepared a Tier II project-level  EIR/EIS that provided comprehensive environmental analysis of three potential build alternative designs within the selected corridor,  with a variety of interchange and other design options.    The planning and implementation of this project has required substantial coordination with a large number of agencies on both sides of the international border. Regular inter-agency meetings, as well as extensive bi-national coordination, continued throughout the multi-year life of the project to keep the agencies involved and to receive their early and continuing input on critical issues.  The project also included a bilingual (English/Spanish) community outreach component.

Planning Integration Award-
Project Name: Ocean  Beach  Master Plan
Award Presented to: SPUR, AECOM, ESA PWA, Nelson\Nygaard, Sherwood Design Engineers with the generous support of the State of California Coastal Conservancy, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, National Park Service

Ocean Beach is a 3.5-mile stretch of sand along San Francisco’s rugged Pacific coast, drawing a diverse population of more than 300,000 visitors each year to stroll, bike, surf, walk dogs and enjoy the stunning natural setting. It is an important piece of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and also home to major elements of San Francisco’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, which protects coastal water quality. The Ocean Beach Master Plan is an interagency effort to develop a sustainable long-term vision for Ocean Beach, addressing public access, environmental protection and infrastructure needs in the context of erosion and climate-related sea level rise. The Master Plan process was the result of more than a decade of advocacy by community members and increasing interest by stakeholders, public agencies and decision makers.

This project was not only charged with solving hot button issues of erosion and coastal management, but in considering  all aspects of the beach, including recreation, character, public amenities and wildlife habitat.  As such, the Master Plan benefits a wide range of stakeholders from public agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, and indeed the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

Public Involvement Award-
Project Name:  Joint Air Toxics Assessment Project (JATAP) Partnership
Award Presented to:Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Environmental Protection & Natural Resources, Gila River Indian Community Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality,ASU American Indian Policy Institute, ASU School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy

One of the most persistent difficulties in conducting environmental projects that produce meaningful results is the need for coordination among different jurisdictions and organizations.  In the case of the Joint Air Toxics Assessment Project (JATAP), understanding the sources, distribution and health impacts of air toxics in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area airshed required data from numerous jurisdictions, including state and tribal environmental agencies.   While these agencies had developed some relationships, JATAP was the first major research project that all the regulatory jurisdictions in the airshed participated  in fully and collaboratively.   The JATAP partners joined together to assess the health consequences of air toxics  (a group of some 200 compounds, also known as hazardous air pollutants) and broke new ground nationally in its highly successful partnership of tribal and nontribal environmental agencies– from the field technicians to top management.