OCT 05 2011
Edward T. TeixeiraVice Director of Civil DefenseState of Hawaii Department of DefenseOffice of the Director of Civil Defense3949 Diamond Head RoadHonolulu, HI 96816-4495
SUBJECT: Second Appeal: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Woodlawn Drive Bridge Flood Mitigation. FEMA-1575-DR-HI, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)Project #1575-02
Dear Mr. Teixeira:
This is in response to your letter dated April 4, 2011, transmitting the second appeal on behalf of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The DLNR requested FEMA to reconsider the termination of the Woodlawn Drive Bridge Flood Mitigation project, HMGP #1575-02.
Background:Severe storms and flash flooding along Manoa Stream on October 30, 2004, caused significant damage in the vicinity of Woodlawn Drive Bridge. The President declared the event a major disaster on February 1, 2005. The State of Hawaii (the State) submitted a subapplication for the Woodlawn Drive Bridge Flood Mitigation project on August 1, 2006. The scope of work for the project involved approximately 300-400 feet of channel enhancements to the Manoa Stream at Woodlawn Drive Bridge. The estimated cost of the project was $2.8 million. On September 6, 2007, the State informed FEMA that the United States Corps of Engineers (USACE) was conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Ala Wai Watershed water resources study that included the Manoa Watershed area and the EIS was scheduled to be completed in 2011. On June 13, 2008, FEMA approved Phase I of the project which included project design costs.
In a letter dated May 10, 2010, FEMA Region IX Mitigation Division Director informed the State that FEMA was terminating the Woodlawn Drive Bridge Flood Mitigation project because of the uncertain timeframe for the USACE to complete its Woodlawn Drive Bridge project, and the FEMA Office of Chief Financial Officer's directive to reduce un-liquidated obligations. The Regional Administrator sustained this determination in response to the first appeal in a letter dated December 14, 21010. The State forwarded a second appeal to FEMA on April 4, 2011.
Extended and Uncertain EIS Timeline
The USACE initiated the Ala Wai Watershed Project to investigate and survey the water resources problems in the watershed, recommend potential solutions to those problems, and identity solutions that are within USACE's authority to implement. The project is currently in the feasibility phase and USACE does not have authorization to design and construct any recommendations contained in its feasibility report. Specific authorizations by Congress are required for USACE to implement the project. USACE is preparing an EIS as part of its Ala Wai Watershed Project investigation.
Because the Manoa Stream watershed is a sub-watershed in the larger Ala Wai watershed, FEMA Regional staff determined that FEMA would not evaluate the environmental impacts of the Woodlawn Drive Bridge Flood Mitigation project until USACE completed its EIS for the Ala Wai Watershed Project. The basis for this determination was that the environment assessment of the Woodland Bridge Flood Mitigation project must include the potential cumulative effects of recommendations contained the USACE's feasibility report. FEMA Regional staff were concerned that USACE would not complete its EIS within the performance period for the Manoa Bride Project. Therefore, it terminated the grant.
FEMA HMGP policy requires subgrantees to complete projects within three years of FEMA approval of the State grant, or request time extensions to the period of performance when unusual circumstances exist. In this case, FEMA imposed the requirement to delay the environmental review of the project until USACE completed its EIS. The subgrantee is prepared to initiate the environmental assessment of the project, to include potential impacts from the USACE proposed projects in the Ala Wai Watershed. The existing conditions along Manoa Stream at Woodlawn Drive caused significant damage during the disaster event. There is no justifiable reason to terminate the project because of the additional time required to complete a FEMA-imposed requirement, over which DLNR has no control.
Uncertain Long-Term Viability of the Project
The purpose of the Woodland Bridge Flood Mitigation project is to improve the conveyance along Manoa Stream at Woodlawn Bridge during a 25-year flood event and reduce potential future damage to the surrounding commumity, including residences, a school and the University of Hawaii. The USACE feasibility study examines solutions to manage 100-year flood flow throughout the Ala Wai Watershed. There is no information in the appeal file to indicate that the Woodland Bridge Flood Mitigation project is inconsistent with the USACE Manoa Watershed Project.
FEMA Office of Chief Financial Officer's Directive
The FEMA Chief Financial Officer directed the regions to review all un-liquidated obligations to determine if the obligations exceeded the amount required to accomplish the grant objective. For example, if the grantee completed a project for less than the obligated amount, the regions were asked to close out the project and de-obligate the excess funds, making the funds available tor FEMA to use for other eligible projects. The intent of the directive was to recoup excess funds, not to deny funding for eligible projects.
Conclusion:I have thoroughly reviewed all documentation that the State submitted with the appeal and have determined that there is no justification for terminating the project. Accordingly, I approve the second appeal. However, prior to any award and implementation of Phase II of the project, the FEMA Environmental and Historic Preservation review must be completed. Additionally, the period of performance for this project expired on June 30, 2011, while the second appeal was under review by FEMA. The State has 60 days from the date of this letter to request a period of performance extension from FEMA. By copy of this letter, I ask the Regional Administrator to take appropriate action to implement this determination.
Please inform the DLNR of my determination. My determination is the agency's final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.440, Appeals.
Sandra K. Knight, PhD, PEDeputy Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administrator, Mitigation
cc: Nancy Ward, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region IX
Sally Ziolkowski, Division Director, Mitigation Division, FEMA Region IX
Dawn Johnson, State Hazard Mitigation Officer