The National Park Service has released the environmental assessment of DC Water’s plans for rehabilitating the century-old sewer system in Soapstone Valley. This sets in motion a 59-day public comment period on work that will keep Soapstone users out of the park for as many as four years.
NPS has scheduled a public meeting on Wednesday, June 26th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Forest Hills of DC Assembly Hall (4901 Connecticut Avenue). It is also accepting comments online and by mail through Friday, August 2nd.
The environmental assessment lays out the impacts of taking no action, and of DC Water’s preferred method of addressing the sewer system degradation: lining the existing sewer pipes in what is called the “trenchless” alternative. The Soapstone Valley would be off-limits to visitors for 18 to 24 months of work and another two years of post-construction restoration.
Other options have been relegated to an appendix. You’ll find all the documentation on the project here.
The project is moving forward after years of delay, with plans going back and forth between DC Water and NPS, which has jurisdiction over this project.
DC Water first came to ANC 3F in 2013 after four years of deliberations with the National Park Service about the need to fix this aging system. The ANC is requesting access to both DC Water and the National Park Service and a reasonable time period for public assessment and input.
At ANC 3F’s May 21 meeting, the commission discussed the impending release of the environmental assessment and the need for a more open process.
3F chair David Dickinson told Forest Hills Connection:
“ANC 3F is looking for an adequate and reasonable public process to both evaluate and comment on a critical project in our community that will have lasting environmental benefits and impacts for decades to come. We appreciate the efforts of DC Water and NPS, but there needs to be an opportunity for the community to engage and provide input on the technical aspects of the project [emphasis added], as well as gain a full understanding of the environmental impacts to an important community asset during the construction phase of the project.”
The ANC’s four-page resolution asks, among other things, that NPS also schedule a second public meeting a couple of weeks after the first for the purpose of asking and follow-up questions.