Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crooked Branch Contamination Investigation

During March and April of 2012, water quality monitors with the Reedy Creek Coalition (RCC) identified foul odors and elevated E. coli counts at a monitoring site on Crooked Branch, a tributary of Reedy Creek. The RCC notified the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) regarding their observations and the DPU Pretreatment Program began an investigation on April 25, 2012.

Environmental technicians with DPU’s Pretreatment Program took water samples from the outfall where Crooked Branch daylights at Crutchfield Street and submitted them to the Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant laboratory for analysis. The technicians also noted a foul, sewage-like odor, and turbid water at the outfall.

The results of the samples were reported by the lab on April 30 and confirmed the findings of the RCC volunteers, indicating E. coli levels of 435 MPN (most probable number ) /100 mL (milliliters) and ammonia of 0.8 mg/L (milligrams per Litre). The investigating technicians returned to the site and began to trace the contamination upstream using a system map and a handheld YSI Professional Series meter with conductivity, pH (a measurement of acidity), ammonium, and DO (dissolved oxygen) probes.

Concentrations of ammonium were observed to be as high as 2.2 mg/L at a manhole near Midlothian Turnpike and a strong sewage odor was detected. The next accessible manhole was on Brandon Street, west of Belt Boulevard, where a strong sewage odor was noted but ammonium concentrations were found to be less than 1.0 mg/L.

The investigators then proceeded to open manholes on the sanitary sewer line adjacent to the storm sewer and discovered that the sanitary line appeared to be significantly blocked and sewage was backed up in the line. The investigators notified DPU Sewer Maintenance personnel regarding the backup and a crew was dispatched on May 1 to address the problem.

On May 3, the investigating technicians returned to the Crooked Branch outfall and noted that there were no foul odors detectable and that the water appeared to be much less turbid. Follow up sampling showed E. coli levels of 56 MPN/100 mL and ammonia concentrations of less than 0.1 mg/L at the outfall.
The correction of this issue means that significantly less bacteria and nutrients are now entering Reedy Creek through Crooked Branch. The success of this investigation also serves to highlight the benefits for water quality that can be achieved when the city and citizen groups work together to identify and address the problems facing our local waterways.
Written by:
John A. Allen,
Environmental Technician II
Richmond DPU

City Receives Grant for Bellemeade Creek Watershed

The city of Richmond and the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) have been awarded $59,671 in grant funding for the Bellemeade Creek Watershed Coalition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The coalition supports environmental restoration of Bellemeade Creek in South Richmond.

The project will establish a new community-based coalition that will be trained in watershed stewardship and healthy communities. Bellemeade Creek is part of an urban watershed that includes the Bellemeade neighborhood and Hillside Court public housing development. It feeds into Goodes Creek, a tributary of the James River. Land use is primarily residential within the neighborhood, but the watershed project area is bound by commercial/industrial corridors along Route 1 and Commerce Avenue.
It also includes the new Oak Grove Elementary School, currently under construction.

Over the past year, the city, GIC and its environmental organization partners have worked with community members, non-profit groups and business leaders to identify strategies to improve the health of both the creek and the community. Components include green streets that provide safe routes to school and improve water quality; creek crossings that provide watershed education and stream bank restoration; and community rain gardens that improve water quality and provide outdoor education.

The City has launched a number of new initiatives to promote walkability, greenways and healthy lifestyles in the city over the past several years, including crosswalk improvements, sidewalk repairs, stormwater runoff mitigation and a plan for better access to the James River.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Church Hill Gets a New Water Tank

The five million gallon ground storage tank in Church Hill at 714 N. 30th Street between 29th, 30th, M and N streets,was replaced in 2012-13. The tank provides processed drinking water to customers in the east part of town.

The former tank was built in 1954 and reached the end of its useful life. The new tank was built south of the existing tank behind the Church Hill Pump Station building.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Customer Photos!

Seth Rosenthal out in Henrico County cooks turkey sausage on his natural gas outdoor grill.

Emily Chambers of Henrico lets her rescue dog, Sadie Mae, relax in front of her natural gas fireplace.  Sadie Mae is a real heat fan!