DC Water came to Tuesday night’s ANC 3F meeting to let us know they’re getting closer to revealing the latest plan to address Soapstone Valley’s 110-year-old sanitary sewer system. The environmental assessment is to be issued in the next month or so for public comments.
DC Water engineer Louis Arguello spoke about the project’s scope, and about the agency’s concerns about condition of the sanitary (human waste) sewers and two stormwater outlets in need of repair.
DC Water has 6,200 linear feet of sanitary sewer pipe in Soapstone Valley between Connecticut Avenue and Broad Branch Road. These are clay or concrete pipes, 10 to 18 inches in diameter – mostly 18 inches. DC Water also has 29 sanitary sewer manholes and six stream crossings.
Erosion has exposed and threatens to undermine the sanitary sewage facilities. Risks include potential leaks of sewage from the pipes, and infiltration of groundwater and rainwater into the pipes.
The two stormwater outlets are just south of Albemarle Street near Connecticut, and at the Albemarle end of Linnean Avenue. The former, at the Soapstone Valley floor, is made of unreenforced concrete and has cracked. The latter includes a “regenerative storm water conveyance” system installed by the Department of Energy and Environment. This is a series of open-air ponds which slow down storm flow into the valley and let some soak into the hillside. (Read more about its 2015 installation.)
The Soapstone sewer systems belong to DC Water but they run through National Park Service (NPS) land as well as DC land. So it’s NPS that will issue the environmental assessment (EA) and post it at parkplanning.nps.gov. The EA will describe specific measures DC Water now proposes and will presumably address previous public comments received.
NPS will invite new public comments when it releases the EA later this spring, as well as host a community meeting. Chairman David Dickinson said ANC 3F would be willing to be a co-host. However, he asked that DC Water and NPS go over the EA with ANC 3F’s Soapstone and Melvin Hazen Parks & Trails Committee beforehand. The Parks & Trails Committee (chaired by Alex Sanders) is next scheduled to meet on May 10th (committee meetings are also open to the public). If NPS issues its EA before then, NPS and DC Water could come to that meeting as well.
David Bardin has closely followed the Soapstone Valley sewer project since it was revealed to the public in 2013. Here’s his writeup on the proposals as of 2015.