Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thank You DPU for All That You Do!

Without the Department of Public Utilities...

Our streets would be dark and dangerous

Our drinking water would be dirty and unhealthy

Our houses would be cold, without natural gas heat or hot water

Our raw sewage would run through the streets and cause disease

Our river would be dirty and polluted!

Thank you DPU, for all that you do!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lightning Strikes Can Cause Gas Leaks Through Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing

If your home or business was built after 1990 or you had work done to your natural gas system, it's likely that corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) was installed.

If lightning strikes a structure containing CSST, there is a risk it can travel along the structure's natural gas piping system and cause a leak, or in some cases, even a fire.

CSST does not connect directly to appliances, but runs through a home or business, sometimes under floors, along sidewalls, or in the attic. It is a flexible, stainless steel pipe and often has a yellow, or sometimes black, casing.

CSST gas piping systems should be bonded to the electrical service grounding system at the point where the gas service enters the building. The bonding jumper should not be smaller than a 6 AWG copper wire or equivalent.

If you find CSST in your home or business, it is recommended that you contact a licensed electrician to make sure it is properly bonded and grounded. If you are unsure whether your building contains CSST, contact a building inspector for a professional inspection.

Happy Anniversary, Safe Drinking Water Act

Dec. 16 is the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), a federal law passed to ensure the quality of drinking water in America. Under the SDWA, the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees those who implement those standards, including us, the Department of Public Utilities.The SDWA was passed on Dec. 16, 1974 to protect the public health by regulating the nation's drinking water supply. It has been amended in 1986 and 1996. It does NOT regulate private wells that serve fewer than 25 individuals, or to bottled water.

There are a number of threats to drinking water: improperly disposed of chemicals; animal wastes; pesticides; human wastes; wastes injected deep underground; and naturally-occurring substances can all contaminate drinking water. Likewise, drinking water that is not properly treated or disinfected, or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system, may also pose a health risk.

Visit our Water Quality web page for more information about Richmond's water and everything the Department of Public Utilities does to make it safe for you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge Project

The city has been working with the state to clear woody vegetation near the Brown’s Island Dam. This work needs to be done before work begins on the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (TTPMB). In order to get to the dam, the contractor will need to prepare an access road.

Work began Nov. 18. In order to get to the dam, and to construct the access road, a fair amount of clearance was required. This clearance would have occurred anyway for the TTPMB. 

This is good news for those who have waited so long for the TTMPB to start…and shows real progress on the implementation of the Riverfront Plan.

•Brown’s Island Dam (BID) is regulated by the Dept. of Conservation and Resources, State of Virginia as a Low Hazard (Special Criteria) dam and therefore all woody vegetation within 25 feet of the structure is to be removed. Reference: Impounding Structures Regulations, 4VAC 50-20-10 et seq., including 4VAC 50-20-105, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.

•The dam inspection report by DPU’s consultants Dewberry Consultants, LLC, 12/27/13 recommends the removal of woody vegetation and debris in the south section of the dam and along various piers.

•Requests for removal schedules by PDR were followed by DPU’s request to investigate the possible plan through DPU’s annual contracts.

•A draft drawing shows a tree removal plan that will benefit both the TTPMB project and meet the Low Head Dam requirements. It included a construction entrance that can be used by the successful BIDW contractor from day one to access the lower Southside site. It also includes the erosion and sediment controls required for the small amount of earth (460 square feet) that will be disturbed at the construction entrance. All trees are proposed to be chipped to the ground with no land disturbed. A safety fence adjacent to N-S tracks is shown as a precaution/boundary. DPU and PDR reviewed this plan.

•PDR worked with the TTPMB consultants, Hargreaves Associates, to approve the proposed tree removal routes and actions by G L Howard with comments that would require removal of the wood chips from the sites for future construction access. This would increase the cost and an agreement to spread the chips with future removal was reached.

•Work will begin with all permits in hand after November 18, 2014 and weather-permitting be finished by the end of the month. Work on the TTPMB will begin in earnest by the end of the year.

The Brown's Island Dam that the Potterfield Memorial Bridge crosses is classified as a low hazard dam by the State of Virginia. The state dam safety office thus requires the City of Richmond, the owner of the structure, to maintain a 25-foot clear zone free from woody vegetation around the dam. Clearing this vegetation is a state-mandated part of dam maintenance and Department of Public Utilities contractors will be completing it to fulfill State of Virginia dam safety requirements over the next month.

This required maintenance activity will also help support the construction of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and paths. DPU contractors will be clearing the same pathway that the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will take in order to access the Brown's Island Dam and move machinery for the dam maintenance activity while limiting impact on the area. The clearing of vegetation in this area will help prepare the area where the elevated pathway for the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will be constructed over the next year. 

The Potterfield Memorial Bridge project has several important sustainability features, including: avoiding all impact to designated wetlands and the floodway, capturing run-off on site in bioswales, and improving water quality of run-off. Over 1,000 native ferns, shrubs, and trees will be planted as part of the project.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why is my water cloudy and smelly?

Two of the most common calls our Water Plant water quality technicians receive is cloudy water complaints  and hot water that has a bad taste or smell.
Neither issue is one the city can correct. Cloudy water is caused by dissolved gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, or hydrogen sulfide and the water looks cloudy only momentarily. The milky coloring is just air and the water clears when allowed to sit for a minute or two.

Water that has not been used for a period of time may have a taste and odor from sitting stagnant in the pipes. Run your tap for a few minutes when returning home if you’ve been away for more than 24 hours.

If the chlorine in water is unpleasant to you, place your drinking water in an uncovered glass container in the refrigerator at least overnight. This allows for the chlorine to dissipate at a faster pace. A container with a large opening works better. Another option is to boil tap water for five minutes, then allow it to cool. Then you won’t taste the chlorine.
 
The water from your water heater has all these gases and is under pressure, so when it comes out of the faucet, it might have a cloudy or milky appearance. It starts clearing up from the bottom to the top. It’s simply the tiny air bubbles rising. This is perfectly normal and it may happen more often at different times of the year. You don’t need to call the Department of Public Utilities unless the water hasn’t cleared up at all after five minutes.
 
Bad tasting or smelly hot water usually means the customer has an issue with their hot water heater that needs to be addressed. Most of the time, it’s sediment in the tank. Hot water heaters need to be flushed periodically to minimize tastes and odors. Follow all manufacturing recommendations outlined in your owner’s manual for properly maintaining your hot water heater.
 
It’s actually easy to do yourself.

For electric hot water heaters, shut off the power from the circuit breaker. If you use gas, shut the valve providing the gas supply. Next, turn off the cold water supply to the thank. It will be a valve near the bottom of the water tank. If you are not sure, feel the piping to see if it feels cool.

Near the bottom of the water heater is a drain valve. It may look like a small faucet or a round dial attached to a hose. If it’s a hose attachment, attach a garden hose tightly to it and put the other end of the hose out a window or in a sink or basement drain. If you have a faucet valve, you’ll need to drain it into buckets. You’ll need at least two, one to empty while the other is filling.

When the tank is empty, DO NOT turn the power or gas back on yet. That would be very bad and do great damage to your unit. Turn the water back on and fill up the water heater first. After it is full, then you can turn the power or gas back on. It will take awhile before the water gets hot again.

For more information, search YouTube for videos on how to drain hot water heaters.

Councilman Visits the Water Plant

The Water Plant hosted a visit from Councilman Jon Baliles, Nov. 5.

















Cleaned, treated water is almost ready to leave the plant and be sent to people's homes and businesses.


These massive pumps will send the water to various reservoirs and water towers around the city.



Water is constantly tested before it leaves the plant.


Each faucet represents a different water basin.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City Announces Decrease in the Cost of Purchased Gas

The city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) announced today a 20 percent reduction in the purchased gas cost (PGC) rate. This decrease is the result of improved price projections and increases in natural gas usage over the summer.

Mayor Dwight Jones stated that, “By law, the city passes along the cost of the natural gas it purchases and delivers to its customers, dollar for dollar without any markup. As we enter the heating season, I’m pleased that we are in a position to announce this 20 percent reduction in the cost. The city will continue to review and adjust the gas costs on a quarterly basis to reflect the price that DPU pays for natural gas.”

Beginning with the first natural gas bill received in November 2014, the PGC will decrease from $0.815 to $0.650 per Ccf (100 cubic feet of natural gas). As a result, the average residential customer who uses 70 Ccf per month will pay approximately $91.99 compared to a current bill of $103.54, an 11 percent reduction in the total natural gas bill.

Across all energy sectors (electricity, heating oil, propane), natural gas prevails as the most efficient and economical choice of fuel for home heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying. DPU offers information and programs year-round to encourage customers to better manage their utility bills and seek assistance before bills become unmanageable. DPU also encourages customers to consider enrolling in the Equal Monthly Payment Plan in order to avoid large seasonal fluctuations in their monthly bill. More information about EMPP and other programs is available by calling 646-7000 or visiting DPU’s website at http://www.richmondgov.com/dpu.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Customer Photos!

We're getting so many wonderful submissions for the customer photos in Utility Talk. Here's what's coming in for the winter issue:

Albert Ruffin has a natural gas back-up generator. He says he's never without power!

Ben Thomason of Glen Allen is testing the sauce on his natural gas range. A Photoshop composite. Can you guess which elements were added to the original photo for this creative rendering?

Julie Zen is preparing tofu with spicy peanut sauce on her natural gas range.

Kezzie Joyner, 3, shows her appreciation for her natural gas hot water heater.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Public Hearing: Multifamily Residential Facilities Load Management Incentive Program

A public hearing was held Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, at the Department of Public Utilities' Operations Center on Jefferson Davis Highway to receive public comment on a proposed amendment to the Department's rules and regulations concerning the City of Richmond gas utility's Multifamily Residential Facilities Load Management Incentive Program.

The deadline for written comments was Sept. 10.

The purpose of the incentive program is to promote the more efficient use of the city's gas utility supply and distribution resources and to maintain or decrease the unit cost of natural gas service within the service area. A multifamily residential facility is defined as more than 20 dwelling units having one street address and sharing one foundation footprint.

Owners of eligible existing facilities within the service area can apply for the incentive program to convert existing equipment to gas or to install gas equipment into new construction.

For more information, call 804-646-5250 or visit www.dpu-natgas.com


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Customer Photos!

Ivory Randolph is ready to cook with natural gas. During the winter, she says her radiator heat keeps her apartment warm for days without adjusting the thermostat.

Calvin and Myra Pugh of Glen Allen enjoy roating bell peppers on their natural gas stove.

Wendy Rivera thinks her natural gas stone is quicker and prettier than an electric stove.

Robert and Pamela Goetz of Glen Allen gave each other a natural gas hot water heater as a Valentine Day present.