Friday, January 30, 2015

City announces purchased gas cost decrease

Beginning with the first utility bills in February 2015, natural gas customers of the city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will see a savings on their monthly utility bill. DPU is lowering the Purchased Gas Cost (PGC) portion of the natural gas utility bill from $0.650 to $0.575 per Ccf (100 cubic feet). By law, the city passes along the cost of the natural gas it purchases and delivers to its customers, dollar for dollar without any markup.  Other components of the natural gas bill – the distribution charge and customer charge – are unchanged.      

The PGC rate of the average residential customer who uses 70 Ccf’s of natural gas per month will pay approximately $86.74 compared to a current bill of $91.99. This equates to an 11.5 percent reduction in the PGC rate charged by DPU. DPU Director Bob Steidel stated, “We welcome the opportunity to pass along these savings to our customers, especially during the heating season when it is most needed.” The city will continue to review and adjust the gas costs on an as needed basis to reflect the price that DPU pays for natural gas.            

Monday, January 19, 2015

No Need to Boil Water Now

The Department of Public Utilities has determined it is not necessary to boil water following the Harrison-Cumberland water main break and widespread outages today. No data supports a mandatory boiled water notice.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Davee Gardens Drainage Improvement Project

We'll soon begin construction on the Davee Gardens Drainage Improvement Project to resolve standing water issues impacting various properties in the neighborhood. Work should start approximately Jan. 26.

What is the purpose of the project?
The Davee Gardens Drainage Improvement Project involves construction of a french drain system along the rear yard and side yard property lines of various properties within the Davee Gardens subdivision. This work is required to address yard ponding and flooding issues affecting numerous residential lots within the subdivision. Work will take place within city right-of-way and also within drainage/utility easements located on private residential property.

What is a
french drain?
French drains are an excavated trench filled with gravel or stone that contain a small diameter perforated pipe at the bottom of the trench. French drains absorb water and direct it to a distant point. Perforated pipe in the french drains installed for Davee Gardens will connect to the existing city storm sewer system in the right-of-way.Topsoil and grass will cover several inches above the backfilled trench.

How long will the project take?
Overall, the project will take approximately 90 calendar days to complete. (Late April or May 2015)

How will this effect my driving?
Most of the construction work will take place within existing drainage/utility easements located on private residential property with minimal work occurring in the City of Richmond’s right-of-way.That being the case, during the course of construction there may be traffic flow modifications (lane closures and detours) within the construction area. Care will be taken to allow residents access to and from their homes. Proper signage and traffic control devices will be put in place to maintain safe traffic flow for the safety of the residents as well as the construction workers. Please adhere to posted signage and regulations for work zone safety when traveling in work zones.

Will this project impact my property?
A shallow trench (approximately 1.5 feet deep) will be excavated along rear yard and side yard property lines for various properties throughout the subdivision. This trench will be filled with pipe and stone backfill material and the surface restored with topsoil, seed and fertilizer once work is complete. It should also be noted that all disturbed areas impacted by the construction activities will be restored to original or better condition once construction is complete.

What can I do to prepare for construction?
Residents who will have the french drain improvements made to their property are asked to remove all items from their yard perimeter that can serve as an obstacle to construction activities. It is important that the contractor be provided a clear path along property lines to install the french drain system. If the contractor encounters yard items that are in the way of the work it may result in construction delays, higher project costs, or potentially a premature end to the project. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thank You DPU for All That You Do!

Without the Department of Public Utilities...

Our streets would be dark and dangerous

Our drinking water would be dirty and unhealthy

Our houses would be cold, without natural gas heat or hot water

Our raw sewage would run through the streets and cause disease

Our river would be dirty and polluted!

Thank you DPU, for all that you do!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lightning Strikes Can Cause Gas Leaks Through Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing

If your home or business was built after 1990 or you had work done to your natural gas system, it's likely that corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) was installed.

If lightning strikes a structure containing CSST, there is a risk it can travel along the structure's natural gas piping system and cause a leak, or in some cases, even a fire.

CSST does not connect directly to appliances, but runs through a home or business, sometimes under floors, along sidewalls, or in the attic. It is a flexible, stainless steel pipe and often has a yellow, or sometimes black, casing.

CSST gas piping systems should be bonded to the electrical service grounding system at the point where the gas service enters the building. The bonding jumper should not be smaller than a 6 AWG copper wire or equivalent.

If you find CSST in your home or business, it is recommended that you contact a licensed electrician to make sure it is properly bonded and grounded. If you are unsure whether your building contains CSST, contact a building inspector for a professional inspection.

Happy Anniversary, Safe Drinking Water Act

Dec. 16 is the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), a federal law passed to ensure the quality of drinking water in America. Under the SDWA, the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees those who implement those standards, including us, the Department of Public Utilities.The SDWA was passed on Dec. 16, 1974 to protect the public health by regulating the nation's drinking water supply. It has been amended in 1986 and 1996. It does NOT regulate private wells that serve fewer than 25 individuals, or to bottled water.

There are a number of threats to drinking water: improperly disposed of chemicals; animal wastes; pesticides; human wastes; wastes injected deep underground; and naturally-occurring substances can all contaminate drinking water. Likewise, drinking water that is not properly treated or disinfected, or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system, may also pose a health risk.

Visit our Water Quality web page for more information about Richmond's water and everything the Department of Public Utilities does to make it safe for you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge Project

The city has been working with the state to clear woody vegetation near the Brown’s Island Dam. This work needs to be done before work begins on the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (TTPMB). In order to get to the dam, the contractor will need to prepare an access road.

Work began Nov. 18. In order to get to the dam, and to construct the access road, a fair amount of clearance was required. This clearance would have occurred anyway for the TTPMB. 

This is good news for those who have waited so long for the TTMPB to start…and shows real progress on the implementation of the Riverfront Plan.

•Brown’s Island Dam (BID) is regulated by the Dept. of Conservation and Resources, State of Virginia as a Low Hazard (Special Criteria) dam and therefore all woody vegetation within 25 feet of the structure is to be removed. Reference: Impounding Structures Regulations, 4VAC 50-20-10 et seq., including 4VAC 50-20-105, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.

•The dam inspection report by DPU’s consultants Dewberry Consultants, LLC, 12/27/13 recommends the removal of woody vegetation and debris in the south section of the dam and along various piers.

•Requests for removal schedules by PDR were followed by DPU’s request to investigate the possible plan through DPU’s annual contracts.

•A draft drawing shows a tree removal plan that will benefit both the TTPMB project and meet the Low Head Dam requirements. It included a construction entrance that can be used by the successful BIDW contractor from day one to access the lower Southside site. It also includes the erosion and sediment controls required for the small amount of earth (460 square feet) that will be disturbed at the construction entrance. All trees are proposed to be chipped to the ground with no land disturbed. A safety fence adjacent to N-S tracks is shown as a precaution/boundary. DPU and PDR reviewed this plan.

•PDR worked with the TTPMB consultants, Hargreaves Associates, to approve the proposed tree removal routes and actions by G L Howard with comments that would require removal of the wood chips from the sites for future construction access. This would increase the cost and an agreement to spread the chips with future removal was reached.

•Work will begin with all permits in hand after November 18, 2014 and weather-permitting be finished by the end of the month. Work on the TTPMB will begin in earnest by the end of the year.

The Brown's Island Dam that the Potterfield Memorial Bridge crosses is classified as a low hazard dam by the State of Virginia. The state dam safety office thus requires the City of Richmond, the owner of the structure, to maintain a 25-foot clear zone free from woody vegetation around the dam. Clearing this vegetation is a state-mandated part of dam maintenance and Department of Public Utilities contractors will be completing it to fulfill State of Virginia dam safety requirements over the next month.

This required maintenance activity will also help support the construction of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and paths. DPU contractors will be clearing the same pathway that the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will take in order to access the Brown's Island Dam and move machinery for the dam maintenance activity while limiting impact on the area. The clearing of vegetation in this area will help prepare the area where the elevated pathway for the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will be constructed over the next year. 

The Potterfield Memorial Bridge project has several important sustainability features, including: avoiding all impact to designated wetlands and the floodway, capturing run-off on site in bioswales, and improving water quality of run-off. Over 1,000 native ferns, shrubs, and trees will be planted as part of the project.