Thursday, April 30, 2009

City receives stimulus funds for sewer projects

The City of Richmond's Department of Public Utilities requested funding for five projects which would help finance a new stormwater system to reduce sewage flow into the river. The State Water Control Board announced this week that, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, three of Richmond's projects would be nearly fully funded.

The projects are:
  • A sanitary sewer will be installed on Orleans Street, east of the railroad bridge to Williamsburg Road at a cost of $979,000, separating Orleans from Nicholson Street's sewer line.

  • An on line storage facility and a solids and floatable control regulator will be constructed at the Oakwood Project to allow combined sewage in excess of capacity to be captured and stored and then conveyed to the wastewater treatment plant after a storm subsides. The project includes rehabilitation of approximately 4,000 linear feet of existing interceptor sewer and was funded at $3,551,000.

  • A solids and floatable control regulator will be constructed at an existing combined sewer overflow outfall pipe to improve the aesthetic quality of the discharge into Almond Creek, funded at $1,678,000.

Projects were selected based on anticipated environmental benefits, how soon they could be started, and the financial hardship of the locality and its unemployment rate.

In addition, Richmond water customers will benefit from Lynchburg's award of $25 million for five projects to modernize its sewers in an effort to eliminate raw sewage overflows into the James River. Richmond's drinking water is taken out of the river after it is used, treated and returned by the city of Lynchburg and other localities west.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nutrient Reduction Program Groundbreaking

The Nutrient Reduction Program is an environmental control project undertaken by the City of Richmond to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities in order to reduce total nitrogen and total phosphorus discharged into the river. This project will comply with the Department of Environmental Quality's waste load allocation for the city.

Department of Public Utilities Director and Acting Chief Administrative Officer Chris Beschler and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones spoke briefly before the groundbreaking ceremony on April 20, 2009.

Friday, April 17, 2009

You Can Make a Difference

Last Feb. 5, five citizens who owned homes surrounding the Jahnke Road water tank and pump station attended an information meeting to learn about a proposed fence to enclose the tank and station. Although the turn-out was small, those citizens convinced the Department of Public Utilities to fence the tank and pump station areas separately to preserve the park setting enjoyed by the neighborhood. It is possible to make a difference and your City of Richmond government is listening to your concerns.


The American Gas Association awarded the Department of Public Utilities an Accident Prevention Certificate for incident rates below the industry national average.

The Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water awarded the Department of Public Utilities the 2008 Excellence in Waterworks Operations/Performance Award.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cleaning Pipes from Downtown to the Fan

Richmond has one of the first modern water distribution systems in America, and hundreds of miles of those original mains are still in service. With pipes and infrastructure dating back to the early 1800s, clogging and corrosion is a real probability.

About half of the city’s 1,100 miles of water mains were installed prior to 1945 and are made of cast or ductile iron. Back then, utility planners didn’t know iron is far more susceptible to mineral deposits, called tubercules. Gradual buildup of rust, calcium and other materials can have a negative effect on water color, quality, pressure, main capacity, presence of bacteria and fire protection.

In 1983, Richmond began an aggressive cleaning and lining program. Tubercules and solid accumulations were cleaned out and the pipes lined with cement mortar, which prevents additional corrosion. The result is less expensive than completely replacing existing pipe and improves water quality and flow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Utility Buddy Visits River's Edge Elementary

Utility Buddy, DPU's mascot, attended the science fair awards ceremony at River's Edge Elementary School in Henrico County in April and handed out prize packs to the children winning science awards.

Mayor, Council members visit roller gates

Chris Beschler (center above, left bottom), director of the Department of Public Utilities, shows City Council members Kathy Graziano and Ellen Robertson (above, left and right) and Richmond City Mayor Dwight C. Jones (bottom left) the combined sewer system roller gates now under construction northeast of the Mayo Bridge. The gates will facilitate moving stormwater and sewage to the wastewater treatment plant.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel

What you need:

• A Clean 50-gallon barrel
• A ¾” faucet measuring 1” on outside. They are easy to open, and you can see from a distance if water is flowing or if the faucet is closed.
• 2 Washers and 1 lock nut for the faucet
• Caulk (clear plumber’s)
• Screening (Nylon fabric-like netting is better than the metal type)
• Metal Hardware Cloth
• Hose adapter for your overflow
• Washer and lock nut needed for the adapter.
• Hosing (short piece) to connect one barrel to another or to direct your overflow to a nearby garden. Hose clamps as needed.
• Bricks or cinderblocks to raise your barrel above the ground (this will improve water pressure)

What to do:

1. Drill hole near bottom of barrel
2. Caulk around outside of hole
3. Screw faucet in (use washer)
4. Caulk inside, then put on lock nut with washer (use pliers)
5. Drill a hole near top for overflow
6. Put in a hose adapter for overflow. Use washers. Use pliers to tighten.
7. Cut out center of lid (or drill several 1 to 2 inch diameter holes into lid)
8. Cut screen and hardward cloth (metal mesh) larger than lid and put in place on top of barrel.
9. Level the dirt under the rain barrel, then add some sand
10. Rain barrels need to be higher than ground level—use bricks or cinder blocks
11. Measure and cut off part of downspout
12. Put the barrel in place
13. Connect the overflow from one barrel to the next, or have overflow hose divert excess rain to a garden or distant area of your choice, away from your home’s foundation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Big Impact from Low Impact Development

"I paid a lot for it, but it's worth it." That's a statement the average American can relate to. As a consuming culture we often equate cost with quality: the more it costs, the better the product. Sometimes that's true, but not when it comes to your involvement in the efforts to improve the City of Richmond's stormwater system.

There are many ways you can be a part of the City's efforts, but there's one thing you can do that will have a major impact on the environment and still keep money in your pocket.

Low Impact Development (LID) is a highly effective and attractive approach to controlling stormwater pollution and protecting developing watersheds and already urbanized communities. LID works by offering a wide variety of structural and nonstructural techniques to reduce runoff speed and volume, and improve runoff quality.

This procedure is aesthetically pleasing in comparison to a traditional structural stormwater conveyance system. Its aesthetic appeal allows versatility and the opportunity to experiment with its various styles without emptying your pockets.