Monday, August 3, 2015

Take this Natural Gas Safety Quiz!

1. Which of the following signs may indicate a natural gas leak? 
a. A rotten egg or sulfur odor 
b. A hissing sound 
c. Bubbles appearing in outdoor puddles 
d. All of the above 
e. Don’t know 

2. If you suspect or detect a possible natural gas leak, what should you do? There may be more than one right answer to this one.
a. Leave the area on foot 
b. Call 911 from a safe distance 
c. Avoid turning on/off switches 
d. Call the Department of Public Utilities at 646-7000 
e. Attempt to find the leak 
f. Don’t know 

3. How does natural gas get to your home? 
a. Underground pipelines 
b. Delivered by truck 
c. Don’t know 

4. If you are planning to dig, what do you need to do before you start? 
a. Call the Department of Public Utilities
b. Call 811 
c. Do nothing 
d. Don’t know 

Answers (Scroll over the blank line below and they will appear!)
1) d  2) a-d  3) a 4) b

History of the Combined Sewer Overflow Project

A Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) is a discharge of untreated storm and wastewater from a combined sewer into the environment. CSOs typically occur when combined sewers fill up with too much water for the system to handle, most often during heavy rains, and the excess water is released into a stream or river.
Richmond's CSO system is the largest in the state of Virginia. The area serviced by Richmond's CSO system is approximately 12,000 acres.
During dry weather, combined sewer systems carry all the sanitary flow to wastewater treatment plants. During times of rainfall, however, the amount of rain adds to the amount of flow going to the treatment plant. This heavier flow is greater than the capacity of the combined sewer system. When the flow exceeds the capacity, the excess flow is discharged directly to the river at various overflow points in the sewer system. In Richmond, the major overflow points are found on the banks of the James River and Gillies Creek.
Richmond's CSO system is financed through state and federal grant funding, state low-interest loans, and rate payers.
The CSO program began in 1970. Here's the timeline:
1972: Study recommends construction of a retention basin for the Shockoe CSO area.
1974: Initiation of a comprehensive CSO study, including extensive CSO sampling.
1978: Temporary suspension of the 1974 CSO study, awaiting the outcome of State of Virginia James River water quality studies.
1983: Completion of the construction of the Shockoe CSO area retention basin.
1985: Completion of State of Virginia Water Quality Model of the James River. Resumption of 1974 CSO study.
1987: Initiation of construction of wastewater treatment plant improvements to increase plant capacity during wet weather events to allow emptying of Shockoe CSO area retention basin in two days and to accept additional wet weather flow.
1988: Completion of the comprehensive CSO study defining the Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) for the CSOs.
1990: City completes the implementation of the initial elements (Phase I) of the approved plan.
1992: State Water Control Board issues a Special Order requiring implementation of additional elements included in Phase II of the plan. This Special Order includes a requirement 7(d) to Re-Evaluate the CSO Control Plan, at the end of Phase II to determine if changes should be made to the approved plans.
1996: The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) amended the Special Order to accelerate all the Northside CSO Control Projects and place on hold the swirl concentration project because this technology had not produced, nationwide, the expected results.
1998: City places in operation all CSO conveyance projects on the south and north sides of the James River.
1999: The DEQ Piedmont Regional office issues a Special Order by Consent requiring the city to advance the schedule of the re-evaluation of the CSO Control Plan consistent with the EPA National CSO Control Policy.
2002: City completes CSO Re-Evaluation Report.
2003: City places in operation CSO Retention Tunnel on the north side of the James River.
2006: Completion of the Program Project Plan that shows the master plan for the Phase III CSO Controls.
2007: The DEQ is evaluating the water quality standards and developing a water quality model as part of the Richmond Area Total Maximum Daily Load.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Open High School Students Build Rain Barrels for Bellemeade



Rich Marino, Chris Pond, and Jerry Hancock installed a rain barrel for Mr. Smith. The rain barrels were painted by Open High School students.

Chris Pond, Rich Marino and Jerry Hancock installed a rain barrel for Ms. Klyvert (second from right)

Jerry Hancock and Rich Marino install a rain barrel

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Look for Our Water Filling Stations at Upcoming Events

During the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, attendees will notice 10 mobile water-filling stations provided by the City’s Department of Public Utilities in the spectator zones, making it easy and free to refill water bottles and reduce the number of plastic bottles used.

This won’t be the first time the water-filling stations will be available to the public. Six fountains are scheduled to be on the premises at the Redskins training camp in August and up to four fountains at the Carytown Watermelon Festival on Aug. 9. They were unveiled at Chimborazo Park on Earth Day this past April.

Water filling station at the Redskins training camp
During the Earth Day event, Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued a progress report on the City’s RVAgreen sustainability plan, "Moving Sustainability Forward." The progress report tracks headway in achieving the 55 sustainability initiatives established in the plan such as green jobs, healthy food access, community energy use, recycling, open space access, housing cost burden, and alternative modes of transportation. It sets goals to reduce government and community greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, equal to a 1.8 percent reduction every year.

As a result of work related to the 2015 Championships, the City of Richmond and collaborators are planning to enhance sustainability for future events. In addition to the mobile water filling stations and Green Team of volunteers, improvements include recycling and composting stations; and a green event toolkit to provide free information and resources to help organizers make their events more sustainable.

RVAgreen is the City’s sustainability program and is managed by Alicia Zatcoff. Zatcoff founded and developed the city’s sustainability and energy management program in 2010, focusing on improving the economic and environmental performance of city government. The RVAgreen Sustainability Plan, released in 2012, furthers the City’s sustainability goals: to improve the quality of life for residents, create a healthy environment and enhance economic opportunity in the city of Richmond. 

For more information about RVAgreen including a copy of the RVAgreen Progress Report visit www.richmondgov.com/sustainability


Watch Alicia Zatcoff’s TEDxRVAWomen talk on “Nurturing Nature." 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Natural Gas is the Environmentally Friendly Fuel

Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and can actually improve the quality of air and water when used in place of other, more polluting energy sources.
There is an abundant supply of natural gas in the U.S. In fact, 96 percent of natural gas comes from North America. There is always an ample supply for all household and commercial needs.
Natural gas combustion produces virtually no emissions of sulfur dioxide and far lower emissions of carbon monoxide, reactive hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.
Natural gas is more environmentally attractive than other fossil fuels because it is composed chiefly of methane, producing combustion products of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Coal and industrial fuel oil combustion produce a higher ratio of carbon as well as sulfur and nitrogen compounds which do not burn as cleanly. Also, ash particles are produced which can be carried into the atmosphere.
Acid rain and CO/ozone pollution are of primary environmental concern. By using natural gas as the energy of choice, emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide are substantially reduced, thus alleviating acid rain and ozone pollution levels.
Automotive gasoline use contributes about three-fourths of all carbon monoxide pollution in urban areas as well as most of the hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide pollution levels. Use of natural gas-fueled vehicles could reduce carbon monoxide levels by as much as 90 percent and hydrocarbon emissions by as much as 85 percent. America's energy of choice could make a substantial impact on improving America's water and air.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ask Utility Buddy

Have a question about public utilities -- water, wastewater, stormwater, streetlights, pretreatment, natural gas -- unrelated to your billing or account? Then call Ask Utility Buddy at 646-5224 during normal business hours.

Some of the brochures and material we can send you includes

Grease can lids
Water leak detection kits

Brochures on

  • natural gas safety
  • paying your bill by Western Union
  • best management practices for restaurant grease
  • water quality
  • the MetroCare program
  • illicit discharge elimination
  • stormwater
  • senior care program
  • calling 811 before you dig
Activity books for children
Water conservation and gas safety bookmarks
811 notebooks

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Update on the Floodwall Walk

Residents have noticed that when you enter the floodwall walk trail at 14th Street, there are no signs indicating the trail is closed at the far end. We are working to reinstall that sign.

Due to additional construction plans, construction on the Manchester Bridge has been extended to mid-October, and there will be additional work in the area on the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge that will disturb ground at the levee crossover under the Manchester Bridge. We do not have a date for the start of that project yet.