Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fire Hydrant Inspection Program Begins

Fire hydrant inspections, preventive maintenance and flushing has begun! City crews and contractors will inspect, operate and flush the hydrants for 15-30 minutes beginning downtown, southwest of Chippenham Parkway, West Broad Street, and the East End. The work will then proceed through the rest of the system until all 6,000 plus hydrants have been inspected.

This program ensures that the city's fire hydrants and associated valves are in proper working order, minimizing replacement costs and reducing risks.

Fire hydrants are an important part of our water distribution system's infrastructure and serve a critical role in public safety by providing water for fire emergencies. This inspection program ensures hydrants are kept in proper working order and geographic information system (GIS) records are current.

Inspection Times
Inspections occur during normal working hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Public Impact
Customers may notice water in the street and surrounding areas during flush times. Crews will utilize diffusers with dechlorination, safety cones, and traffic control to minimize disruption and maintain public safety.

If hydrants are being inspected in your area, you may notice a slight change in water pressure, air in the water pipes, some temporary water discoloration or sediment. If crews are working in your area, run water from an outside tap or basement spigot for a short time to counter any of these temporary effects.

You will not experience an interruption of service. Your water remains safe to drink. Any temporary water quality issues caused by hydrant inspections are aesthetic (visual) and can be relieved by running faucets or spigots for a few minutes.

The work should not have significant impacts on traffic or parking. If it does, prior notification will be provided. Each hydrant inspection takes 15-30 minutes.

This routine maintenance is not related to water main or service line replacement programs. 

Issues and Safety
Hydrants found to be non-operational will get a visible "Out of Service" ring placed on the nozzle, saving valuable time for firefighters to access the next closest hydrant. DPU Operations will immediately notify the Fire Department of the out of service hydrant and repair or replacement will be scheduled as quickly as possible.

DPU and contractor crews are trained in safety practices and will wear protective equipment during this work. To ensure public safety, temporary cones, barricades and other traffic control procedures may be used.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rain Barrel Contest Winners Announced!

Winner: Most Creative by Bellevue Elementary School
Winner: Best in Show Grand Prize by Southampton Elementary School

Winner: Best Environmental Message by Overby-Shepherd Elementary School

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What You Need to Know about the Zika Virus

Yellow fever mosquito
Among the 57 mosquito species commonly found in Virginia, only two, the Asian tiger and the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti) are known to transmit the Zika virus.

They behave differently from other species as they lay their eggs only in containers of water, not in puddles, ponds, or other bodies of water.

They fly around primarily during the day, but will enter homes and rest on the walls. Once inside, they'll bite both during the day and night.

Asian tiger mosquito
Although the yellow fever mosquito has been in America since settler times, arriving in water barrels on ships, the Asian tiger arrived in a shipload of tires unloaded in Texas in the 1990s. It is tolerant of Virginia winters, so has spread to every county and now is the most common urban/suburban pest mosquito. It can carry and transmit more than 20 different species of virus, including West Nile and Zika.

Mosquito breeding habitats
Property maintenance is the best deterrent. Spraying has not been effective against the Asian tiger. The most effective and environmentally sound method of eliminating it is to dump or treat any container on your property that can hold water. Containers are their most common habitat, so you are the first line of defense against the Asian tiger mosquito!

Abandoned tires are a favorite habitat, as well as flooded boats, knots or holes in trees, uncovered rain barrels, plastic-lined ornamental pools, cisterns, watering troughs, seldom-used swimming pools, flower pots, drain pipes, gutters, children's toys, buckets, jars, cans, bird baths, old sleds, even the creases in the cushions of lawn furniture -- anywhere water can sit for several days to a week before evaporating. They only need a teaspoon of water to breed! Ponds and creeks are not natural breeding habitats because frogs, fish, bats, insects, and other predators eat up the mosquito larvae.

If you can't regularly dump out the water from a container on your property, use mosquito dunks to treat the water.These pellets which can be purchased at hardware stores or online, and are safe to use if you have pets or farm animals.

You'll notice a difference if you keep your property free of mosquito-breeding standing water. Check at least twice a month. Once a week is ideal since the maturation process of a mosquito is two weeks from egg to adult. Tell your neighbors so they can dump their containers and keep your whole block mosquito-free.

Unusually High Water Bill?

Is your water bill unusually high? If you haven’t increased your usage significantly, you may have a water leak. There are several ways to check for a leak. One way is to check the indicator on your water meter. Make sure there is nothing inside using water. After ensuring this, go to your meter (under meter cover) and see if the usage indicator (blue dial) is turning. If it is, then water is flowing through and could indicate a leak in the water service line between the meter and your home or building. It could also indicate that water is being used inside the home or building.

To determine if you have a leak in your water service line, close off the main valve* to your home and look at your water meter. If the indicator is turning, this is an indication you have a leak in the pipe between your water meter and the main valve to your home. It could also mean that the main valve is not shutting off water completely.

If the indicator on your water meter was turning but stopped when you shut off the main valve, this indicates that something inside is using water. With the main valve open (and the indicator on the meter turning), turn off the valve to individual fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) one at a time. Check the indicator each time you turn off a fixture valve to see if it stops turning. If it does, the last fixture turned off is the culprit.

Toilets can often be the cause of a “mystery” water leak. Open the cover on the tank. If the water level is above the overflow tube, there is a problem. The water level should be approximately ½ inch or so below the top of the overflow pipe. Adjust the float level, so that the water is turned off at that level. If the valve controlled by the float is leaking, it may need to be replaced.

Toilet leaks can also be due to a leak at the flapper valve that lets water flow into the toilet bowl. To test for this, put a drop or two of food coloring into the tank (not the bowl). Wait about 10 minutes and see if the colored water shows up in the bowl. If it does, your flapper valve may need to be replaced. If you do not have food coloring, you can request a free leak detection kit. Email or call 646-5224.

*Usually the main water valve is located where the water supply pipe enters your home or office. It may be near your clothes washer or hot water heater. In some cases, it may be located under the house in the crawl space. Be sure to locate and mark the main water valve before you need it. That way, you will be able to find and close it quickly should a water leak occur.