Washington Aqueduct sought to inform the public from the start of the EIS process. The process was initiated by the publication of a Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on January 12, 2004. A public scoping meeting was held on January 28, 2004. A notice for this meeting was included in the Federal Register, and was published in both the Washington Post and Northwest Current on January 22, 2004. In addition, 63 invitation letters were sent to political and governmental officials, neighbors, and environmental organizations that had been involved with Washington Aqueduct environmental issues previously. The public scoping meeting was required under the regulations for NEPA. An article was also published in the Northwest Current about the scoping meeting.
In addition, Washington Aqueduct held a public meeting on May 26, 2004. This meeting was not required by the NEPA regulations, but was held to communicate the results of an initial project alternatives screening process with the public to disclose the four alternatives that would be analyzed in detail in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Notices for this meeting were published in the Washington Post on Monday May 24, 2004 and in the Northwest Current on Thursday May 20, 2004 . In addition, 144 letters were sent to neighbors living in the vicinity of the Dalecarlia Reservoir Grounds in Maryland and another 88 letters were sent to neighbors in the District of Columbia.
A third meeting, also not required by NEPA regulations, was held on September 7, 2004. The goal of this meeting was to allow neighbors who may not have been aware of project details to learn about project progress so far, and personally interact with Washington Aqueduct staff and consultants. An open-house format was planned to maximize the interaction and potential for answering questions one-on-one. In addition, an area was set up for questions to be directed to the general manager of Washington Aqueduct. The public participation at the meeting overwhelmed the realistic capacity for this format, which made it largely ineffective as a means of communication between Washington Aqueduct and public stakeholders. Over 1000 invitation letters were sent to neighbors and other stakeholders for this meeting. Notice for this meeting was published in the Northwest Current and Bethesda Gazette on August 25 and September 1 editions. Notice for this meeting was published in the Washington Post on August 31.
A fourth meeting, also not required by NEPA regulations, was held on September 28, 2004. This was a follow-up to the September 7 meeting. The goal of this meeting was to allow the public time to state their comments and concerns and to ask questions. The meeting was held in the Sibley Hospital auditorium. The Washington Aqueduct team made short opening presentations before the meeting was turned over to the public. A moderator maintained a formal question and answer format. The meeting lasted 3 ¾ hours and provided the Washington Aqueduct a significant amount of public input. Over 1000 invitation letters were sent to neighbors and other stakeholders for this meeting. Notice for this meeting was published in the Northwest Current and Bethesda Gazette on September 22 editions. Notice for this meeting was published in the Washington Post on September 21.
A fifth meeting was held on November 16, 2004. This was another follow-up meeting planned to accomplish three things - first, to update the public on the progress made since the previous meeting; second, to provide as much information as possible regarding the input received from the public as of the November 15 deadline for additional options and alternatives; and third, to continue to allow the public to state comments and concerns and to ask questions. Again, over 1000 invitation letters were sent to neighbors and other stakeholders for this meeting. Notice for this meeting was published in the Northwest Current and Bethesda Gazette in the November 10 editions. Notice for this meeting was published in the Washington Post on November 9.
Washington Aqueduct has had a project website with frequent updates of documentation and other information since January 28, 2004. Notices and information about all of the meetings that have been held have been, and are, available on the website.