They had the blueprint. Now they have the green light.
DC Water announced on May 8th that the National Park Service has approved the District agency’s preferred plan for rehabilitating the century-old sanitary sewer pipes running through the Soapstone Creek valley. The creek lies east of Connecticut Avenue at Albemarle Street and is also part of the DC Water stormwater sewer system. So Soapstone Creek is part of two DC Water systems and the work will impact both.
The sanitary sewer lines are decades past their design life. Called the “trenchless alternative,” the DC Water plan involves relining the existing 6,200 linear feet of pipes instead of replacing or digging them up entirely. Other major components of the project include repairing and protecting exposed pipes and manholes and repairing two stormwater outfalls that flow into the creek.
As stated in the June 2019 environmental assessment, the work will mean clearing staging areas and access paths for construction vehicles, and will require trimming and removal of several hundred trees. The stream bed will be disturbed because it will be necessary to gain access to the pipe within.
Also, parts of the trail will be closed when work is in close proximity. Off-trail areas will be closed for two years. And there may be times that streets and traffic will be impacted.
But trails will reopen as work is completed. The stream will be reconstructed. And NPS signed a finding of no significant impact, or FONSI, on April 14th and an memorandum of understanding on April 10th that commits DC Water to not only replanting trees that have to be removed, but also maintaining the trees for five years. You can find both of these documents here.
DC Water expects construction to start in the winter of 2021. The agency is working on a public engagement process and will let the community know what that will entail and when.
If you’re not familiar with the project, Forest Hills Connection has covered the planning process extensively. You can catch up on it all here.