Monday, October 8, 2018

Imagine a Day Without Water

What if there wasn't water? No water to drink, or to make coffee. No water to shower, flush the toilet,
or do laundry. Hospitals would have to close without water. Firefighters wouldn't be able to put out fires. Farmers couldn't water their crops and grow food.

Some communities in America already know how difficult it is to go a day without water, so don't take it for granted! This is the fourth annual Imagine a Day Without Water on Oct. 10 to raise awareness and educate Richmonders about the value of water.

It can be easy to forget that some issues we all care about cut across political and geographic lines. Constituents may have different opinions on health care and tax reform, but when it comes to our daily lives, voters have a lot in common. They get up in the morning and brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and make coffee. They shower, do their laundry, and wash the dishes. But none of which would be possible without safe and reliable water infrastructure.

If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s hard to imagine a day without water. Most citizens recognize that water is essential to our quality of life.

Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between what Americans value and the actions of the federal government. Investment in water infrastructure has not been a priority for decades. The federal government’s investment has declined precipitously, leaving states, localities, water utilities, and people who pay water bills to make up the difference. Meanwhile, our systems are crumbling. The US government is currently funding $82 billion less than what is needed to maintain our water infrastructure, putting our health, safety, economy, and environment at risk.

So, what can we do about it?

We have the opportunity to leverage our collective power, educate our decision makers, and inspire our communities to put water infrastructure on the agenda.

No matter what the cause, a day without water is a public health and environmental crisis. That’s why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water on Oct. 10 to educate our communities on the value of water. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves safe, reliable, accessible water services. Let's invest in our water systems now, so no American ever has to imagine a day – or live a day – without water again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Make Your Fall Leaves Work for You!

There are things you can do with leaves other than rake them and bag them.

Use them in compost.

Leaf mold is what’s left when you let leaves decompose naturally. It makes the forest smell…like a
forest. Leaf mold improves the soil and its water-holding ability and attracts beneficial organisms like earthworms.

Leaves make excellent mulch, suppress weeds, and feed the soil, but shred them first, as just a thick layer of wet leaves will form a solid mat and block water and air from getting to the soil. But when you shred them, they settle into the ground easier. When you first put down a layer of shredded leaves, hose them down thoroughly so they won’t blow away.

Stack leaves around plants and small trees for insulation.

Mow the leaves with your lawn mower and leave them on the lawn to feed the grass. The new wisdom about leaves is that this is the best and wisest thing to do.

If you’re going to rake, invest in a quality, ergonomic rake. Move your legs as well as your arms to reduce back pain. Rake in small sections. Listen to music. Rake downwind. Rake in groups with your whole family so it takes less time.

Only use leaf blowers to dislodge leaves from hard to reach areas, like behind bushes and under decks.

Wait until the trees are nearly bare before you start raking.

Use two garbage pail lids to pick up leaves and bag them.

Minimize how far you move the leaves. Maintain leaf piles in different parts of the yard so you’re not dragging tarps of them any long distances.

Wear gloves when raking to prevent blisters.

Don't Rake Your Leaves Into the Street

Here are some simple steps to keep our storm drains and waterways clean:
Not good! This is why streets flood.

  • Keep a tight lid on your trash cans and recycling bins, especially during windy days. 
  • Pick up trash in your community. 
  • Do not rake leaves into the street or create large piles near the curb 
  • Pick-up after your dog! Stormwater will pick up the waste and wash it into the storm drain (and nearby streams). Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that impact stream wildlife and water quality.

When city residents don’t rake and bag their leaves, they have the potential to end up in the sewer system.

Each year, beginning in the fall, the Department of Public Works sweeps and cleans an estimated 22,000 lane miles of streets to keep debris and leaves from clogging the stormwater system. Due to the type of equipment used, only streets with curbs and gutters are routinely swept.

Leaves clogging the storm drains will create localized flooding. The proper bagging and disposal of leaves and regular street cleaning schedules play an important role each fall and winter season in the prevention of flooding during heavy rain events.

This year the Department of Public Works has again made it easier for residents to dispose of leaves:

1 – Place leaves in bio-degradable bags by your supercan and DPW will pick up to 10 bags on trash day until they are gone

2 – Place bagged leaves out by the published dates for each sector of town and an unlimited number of bagged leaves will be picked up through the end of the corresponding schedule

3 – Pay $30 for vacuum service. Make the request by through RVA311.

For more information visit, email or call 646-LEAF.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Prepare for Power Outages

Just in case the power goes out later this week…

1. Charge any device that provides light. Laptops, tablets, cameras, video cameras, and old phones. Old cell phones can still be used for dialing 911. Charge external battery backups.
2. Wash all trash cans, big and small, and fill with water for flushing toilets. Line outdoor trash cans with trash bags, fill with water and store in the garage. Add bleach to sterilize.
3. Fill every tub and sink with water. Cover sinks with Saran Wrap to keep it from collecting dust. Fill washing machine and leave lid up to store water.

4. Fill old empty water bottles and other containers with water and keep near sinks for washing hands.

5. Fill every Tupperware with water and store in freezer. These will help keep food cold longer and serve as a backup water supply.

6. Fill drinking cups with water and cover with Saran Wrap. Store as many as possible in fridge. The rest you can store on the counter and use first before any water bottles are opened. Ice is impossible to find after the storm.

7. Reserve fridge space for storing tap water and keep the sealed water bottles on the counter.
8. Cook any meats in advance and other perishable foods. You can freeze cooked food. Hard boil eggs for snacks for first day without power.
9. Be well hydrated before the storm hits and avoid salty foods that make you dehydrated.

10. Wash all dirty clothes and bed sheets. Anything dirty will smell without the A/C, you may need the items, and with no A/C, you'll be sweating a lot. You're going to want clean sheets.
11. Toss out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes, empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Remove anything that will cause an odor when the A/C is off. If you don't have a trash day pickup before the storm, find a dumpster.

12. Bring in any yard decor, secure anything that will fly around, secure gates, bring in hoses, potted plants, etc. Bring in patio furniture and grills.
13. Clean your environment so you have clear, easy escape routes. Even if that means temporarily moving furniture to one area.

14. Scrub all bathrooms so you are starting with a clean odor free environment. Store water filled trash cans next to each toilet for flushing.
15. Place everything you own that is important and necessary in a backpack or small file box that is easy to grab. Include your wallet with ID, phone, hand sanitizer, snacks, etc. Get plastic sleeves for important documents.

16. Make sure you have cash on hand.

17. Stock up on pet food and fill up bowls of water for pets.

18. Refill any medications. Most insurance companies allow for 2 emergency refills per year.

19. Fill your propane tanks. You can heat soup cans, boil water, make coffee, and other stuff besides just grilling meat. Get an extra, if possible.

20. Drop your A/C in advance and lower temperatures in your fridges.

21. Gather all candles, flashlights, lighters, matches, batteries, and other items and keep them accessible.

22. Clean all counters in advance. Start with a clean surface. Buy Clorox Wipes for cleaning when there is no power. Mop your floors and vacuum. If power is out for 10 days, you'll have to live in the mess you started with.

23. Pick your emergency safe place such as a closet under the stairs. Store the items you'll need in that location for the brunt of the storm. Make a hand fan for when the power is out.
24. Shower just before the storm is scheduled to hit.

25. Keep baby wipes next to each toilet. Don't flush them. It's not the time to risk clogging your toilet!

26. Run your dishwasher, don't risk having dirty smelly dishes and you need every container for water! Remember you'll need clean water for brushing your teeth, washing yourself, and cleaning your hands.
27. Put a small suitcase in your car in case you decide to evacuate. Also put at least one jug of water in your car. It will still be there if you don't evacuate! You don't need to store all water in the house. Remember to pack for pets as well.

28. Check on all family members, set up emergency back up plans, and check on elderly neighbors.
29. Remember, pets are family too. Take them with you!

30. Before the storm, unplug all electronics. There will be power surges during and after the storm.

31. Gas up your car and have a spare gas container for your generator or your car when you run out.

If you can, take a video of your house and contents....walk room to room--open cabinets/drawers and closets. This will help if you need to make a claim later. It will show proof of items and help you list all the items (help your memory, so you don't forget anything)

I also heard you should freeze a cup of water, place a coin on top after it is frozen...keep this in your freezer to help you gauge the temperature if the power goes out. If the coin stays on top, the food is staying frozen. If the coin falls into the water, the freezer thawed out and most food will likely need to be thrown away. This is helpful is you have to leave and come back, as it may appear everything is still frozen, but if the coin is in the cup--you will know.

Finally, anything that you want to try and preserve, but you can't take with you---place it in a plastic bin and put in your dishwasher, lock the door---this should make it water tight in case of any water intrusion into your home. But of course, take all the important/irreplaceable items you can!

From the website For more information, visit

Emergency Preparation