Northwest D.C. and Montgomery County opponents of a sludge treatment plan now have more time to voice their protests.

In response to public protests, Washington Aqueduct chief Thomas Jacobus agreed last week to a 15-day extension of the public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the Army Corps of Engineers. The new deadline, June 21, will be the last day the public may comment on a proposal to build a dewatering tower at the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant and to haul away residuals by truck.

Several community groups under the umbrella Concerned Neighbors have raised objections to the plan.

Some of them said they would prefer the more costly option of having a pipeline built to carry residuals away underground.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Maryland Democratic Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked the aqueduct to include a later comment date in the document when it was first published in April, to allow more time for public response. After the statement was printed, D.C. council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) asked for a 45-day extension of the public comment period.

Although an extension was granted, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Rachel Thompson said this is not a triumph.

"They are playing hardball. Two weeks is far short of what's been requested."