Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Testing LED Streetlights in RVA

We want to hear from you – Take the Survey!
The City of Richmond’s Streetlighting utility has responded to suggestions for GREEN technology  by embarking on a pilot project involving the installation of LED (Light Emitting Diode) streetlights in various parts of the city. 
LEDs significantly outperform HPS (High Pressure sodium) streetlights by offering excellent visibility, color accuracy and energy efficiency. DPU is asking for public feedback of the areas where these new LED Streetlights have been installed. They can be found in the following areas: 
·         Jefferson Davis Highway between Elton Street and N. Hopkins Road
·         Brook Road between Sherwood Avenue and Dubois Avenue
·         Forest Hill Avenue between Jahnke Road and Westover Hills Blvd
·         New Kent Avenue between Cedar Lane and W 45th Street

Let us know what you think about them, by taking this survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DPUStreetlight

(For more information about DPU’s Streetlighting Utility Projects, contact us at (804) 646-8555.)

We’re Social! Friend us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter @UtilityBuddy and @DPUStreetNews for all utility related events, activities, street closings and utility work.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Customer Photos!

Amy Fowler recycles the water from her hot water bottle the next day to keep the fresh flowers from her yard looking great

Eric Axelson uses water collected in a rain barrel to water his backyard while his cat, Mavis, pretends not to care.

Stacey Heflin's son, RJ, 2, picks up the poop after his dog, Rocky, because he wants to protect the watershed by keeping animal waste out of the storm drains.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DPU Citizens Academy 2017

Rodney Mumford explains how gas meters work.

The SCADA map shows how the natural gas is flowing around the city.

Tour of the Operations warehouse.

Gas meters

LED streetlight

Class at the Wastewater Plant

Clair Watson leads tour of Wastewater Plant

Wastewater Plant

Gates at the Wastewater plant pull out all the items in the sewage that won't decompose

Gateways removing items from sewage that won't decompose and shouldn't go back into the river.

Cleaning process of sewer water begins.

Wastewater plant

Wastewater plant

The water that is returned to the river is crystal clear and clean.

Biosolids removed from water are broken down for fertilizer 

Chemistry lab on Commerce Road

Touring the chemistry lab

Senior Chemist Felicia Bracey explains how water samples are tested.

Rain garden in front of new Commerce Road facility

Stormwater Division repaired the creek that runs through Maury Cemetery

Stormwater enhancements for Maury Cemetery creek

Viewing the downtown canal at dusk. DPU maintains the canals and floodwalls.

Downtown canal at dusk.

Floodwall gate in Shockoe Bottom.

Graduation ceremony!

New interim DPU Director Rosemary Green (third from right) with graduating class

Monday, October 23, 2017

Robert Steidel Promoted to Deputy Chief Administrative Office of Operations

DPU Director Robert (Bob) Steidel accepted the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Operations for the City of Richmond, effective Sept. 30, 2017.

The position oversees Public Utilities, Public Works, and Animal Care and Control.

Steidel was appointed director of DPU in March 2011.

Rotten Egg Cartoon

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Local Governments Announce Voluntary Water Conservation Measures

***Voluntary conservation has ended.***

Beginning Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the City of Richmond along with Henrico County, Hanover County, Chesterfield County, Goochland County, and Powhatan County are implementing voluntary water conservation measures. In accordance with Richmond’s James River Regional Flow Management Plan, when water levels drop to 1,200 cfs (cubic feet per second) or 3 ½ to 3 ¾ feet in depth at the Westham Gauge, voluntary conservation measures are implemented. Voluntary compliance of area customers will assist water treatment plants in the city of Richmond, Chesterfield County and Henrico County in providing water to all customers in the region while also meeting the James River Regional Flow Management Plan.

During periods of voluntary water conservation, residents in the city of Richmond and surrounding counties are asked to voluntarily restrict water use according to the following lawn watering schedule:

· Monday – No watering

· Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – odd property addresses may water

· Wednesday, Friday and Sunday – even property addresses may water

Although localities are asking customers to conserve, our ability remains intact to produce and deliver safe drinking water to meet necessary use and emergency requirements of our communities in the region. The region tracks river flow levels on a 14 day rolling average. In order to suspend voluntary water conservation measures, the river flow levels’ 14 day rolling average must remain above 1,200 cfs for 14 days.

Additional conservation tips may be found at vdh.virginia.gov/drinking-water/office-of-drinking-water/water-conservation-tips/

For additional information, specific to localities, contact:

County of Chesterfield Customer Service 804 748-1271

County of Goochland Public Utilities 804 556-5835

County of Hanover Customer Service 804 365-6024

County of Henrico Customer Service 804 501-4275

County of Powhatan Public Works 804 598-5764

City of Richmond DPU Customer Care Center 804 646-4646

DPU Conserve Water

DPU Conserve - Every Drop Counts

Friday, October 6, 2017

Why DPU Cares About Leaf Collection

Last year, the Department of Public Utilities contributed $625,000 to the city’s General Fund for leaf collection. So, why is the Department of Public Utilities concerned about leaf collection? It’s simple, really. 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.

In 2016, 13,521 tons of leaves and debris were collected and accounted for in the annual report the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities provides to the Department of Environmental Quality.

This is especially important in the Combined Sewer System area of the city, which is the oldest part of the city primarily north of the James River. A Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) occurs after a heavy rain when there is too much water entering the storm basins and the excess water is released into a stream or river. In Richmond, the major overflow points are found on the banks of the James River and Gillies Creek.

There are 29 CSO outfalls located at various points along the James River and within the city’s CSO area.

Leaves clogging the storm drains would create localized flooding and prevent sewage from draining to the CSO outfalls. 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 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 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 calling 646-LEAF.

For more information visit http://www.richmondgov.com/PublicWorks/Leafcollection.aspx, email LeafProgram@Richmondgov.com or call 646-LEAF.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Know Where Your Gas Appliances are Located

When a technician comes to your home or apartment to investigate a gas leak or a problem with a natural gas appliance, it saves time and return visits to know where all your natural gas appliances are located.

Is your stove natural gas or electric? If you see blue flames, it's natural gas. Whether water heaters, dryers, or furnaces are natural gas or electric might be harder to tell, but you should know where they are all located, whether in the attic, the basement, a closet, outside, in a utility room of an apartment building.

Also be aware of any other possible natural gas appliances you may have -- generators, gas logs, pool heaters, outdoor grills?

When a service technician is looking, and time is vital, all the help you can provide is important.

Friday, September 29, 2017

E Broad One Eastbound Lane From 10th to 14th

Starting Monday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m., E. Broad Street will be reduced to one eastbound lane from 10th to 14th streets. No u-turns will be permitted.

VDOT will not have access to the front of their office building.

This closure is due to a large cavitation in the area and may take days-weeks to repair.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cost of Service Meetings Schedule Oct. 4-18

What determines your utility rates? The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities will explain the process and factors involved in how utility rates are set for natural gas, water, wastewater, and stormwater.

Ratepayers are encouraged to attend one of the sessions to learn more and ask questions.

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Byrd Park Roundhouse, 700 S. Davis Street

Thursday, Oct. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
East District Center, 701 N. 25th Street

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Police Academy, 1202 W. Graham Street

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Southside Community Center, 4100 Hull Street

To see the presentation, click here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

DPU Streetlighting Makes "Back to School" a Safe Experience

The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Streetlighting utility is doing its part to keep Richmond Public School (RPS) students safe once they are back in school. With RPS reopening this fall, students will be waiting at school bus stops early in the morning when the city is still dark. The DPU Streetlighting utility has partnered with RPS to ensure that there are no obstructions to streetlights from trees at school bus stops where students will wait to be picked up and transported to their respective school.

In ramped up efforts that began in mid-August with tree trimming at Anne Hardy Park in Richmond’s Highland Park area, DPU Streetlight technicians are trimming any tree branches, limbs and leaves that might hamper or block the light from ornamental lights or cobra head lights positioned at RPS bus stops.   

“DPU has a culture of safety and serving our customers, so anything that we can do to bolster those two objectives, we are all about it,” said DPU Director Robert Steidel.

Although this comes at a time when the DPU Streetlighting utility has adjusted service levels to meet staffing challenges, this effort is being given high priority. 

Ann Hardy Park

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fire Hydrant Inspection Program

Fire Hydrant Inspection Progress Update:
256 Fire hydrant inspections done since July 1, 2017
12 Open Out-of-Service Fire Hydrants as of July 31, 201
8 Out-of-Service Fire Hydrants returned to service in July, 2017.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Telephone Number for Utilities Services

                For Every Utility Fix, Call 646-4646

“Thank you for calling Richmond Gas Works and the Department of Public Utilities.” That’s the  greeting for (804) 646-4646, DPU’s new customer care utilities service number. For natural gas customers in the city of Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties whose utility service is provided by the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, the new number (804) 646-4646 replaces (804) 646-7000 and 311 for all UTILITY RELATED calls. This includes Natural Gas, Water, Sewer, Stormwater and Electric Streetlighting.  So, for EVERY utility fix, call (804) 646-4646.
 Customers familiar with the (804) 646-7000 or 3-1-1 number may still call those numbers for issues related to other city departments such as Animal Care and Control, Department of Public Works, Finance, Planning Development and Review, Social Services, and other non-utility related City of Richmond departments.
DPU’s Natural Gas utility has also changed its name to “Richmond Gas Works.” Natural Gas calls related to this name change are also handled under the city’s utilities service number (804) 646-4646.   

Customers, in addition to calling the new number (804) 646-4646, may also email questions and concerns to dpucustserv@richmondgov.com.  Gas leak calls, and other emergency utility calls will all be handled at (804) 646-4646. 

DPU and Fire Hydrant Maintenance

Recently CBS 6 and WRVA AM-1140  aired a story concerning fire hydrants and the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities maintenance and repair of them. What each story failed to mention was that the availability of fire hydrants in the areas of the reported fires that were featured were not a factor in fire suppression. This was confirmed by the Richmond Fire Department in both cases and stated publicly at a public meeting to discuss the matter.

DPU maintains close to 6,500 fire hydrants throughout our service area, and if a fire hydrant is out of service we want to know about it.  At the time of both stories, less than 1 percent of those fire hydrants were out of service. When customers call to report a fire hydrant that is out of service, be sure to get a reference number so that if the hydrant is not repaired within a reasonable time frame, you can call back and receive the status right away.   

DPU is in the process of implementing an automated fire hydrant inspection program that will make tracking and inspection easier.  Under this new system, once fully implemented, every fire hydrant will be inspected at a rate of once per year. 

DPU is always working hard to improve and streamline our systems in order to provide the best possible service to all of the customers we serve.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

East Franklin Sewer Replacement Project

E. Franklin Street between 17th and 19th and 18th St. between E. Main and E. Grace will be closed from July 6-14, weather permitting, during the day for sewer replacement.

E. Franklin between 18th and 19th streets will continue to be closed during the day through Aug. 25.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Water Quality Report Now Available

The 2016 Consumer Confident Report on Richmond's water quality is now online.

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act requires water utilities to provide consumers with a yearly report on the source and quality of the water they drink. 
The state allows us to monitor for some substances less than once per year because the concentrations of these substances do not change frequently.
The Virginia Department of Health conducted a source water assessment of our system during 2002. The Richmond Water Treatment Plant was determined to be of high susceptibility to contamination, using criteria developed by the state in its EPA-approved Source Water Assessment Program. The assessment report consists of maps showing the source water assessment area, an inventory of known land use activities of concern, and documentation of any known contamination within the last five years from the date of assessment. This report is available by contacting the Department of Public Utilities at 646-5777.
This information is a snapshot of the city’s drinking water quality over the past few years. Included is information about your water, what it contains and how it compares with standards mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Health. This report is being provided to comply with the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act. Landlords, businesses and other property owners are encouraged to share this drinking water quality report with tenants.
For free additional copies or more information about your water and this report, call the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities at 646-5224 during normal business hours.
For information about public participation opportunities, visit the DPU website. Additionally, you may also visit the city of Richmond blog for meeting announcements.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Customer Photos

Customer Christine Williams' son Walker uses natural gas to make a "Depression meal" for his social studies project.

Kevin and Michele Harver show you should not dig before you call 811 to have underground utility lines marked.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Redd Elementary Teachers Talk about the Rain Barrel Contest

Order of appearance: Gay Stokes, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, Public Education and Outreach; teachers: (left) Heidi Parker, 5th grade science teacher, Jamie Twist, Exception Education.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Introducing Richmond Gas Works

It’s an exciting time to work at the City of Richmond, especially at the Department of Public Utilities! Moving forward, the natural gas utility will be known as Richmond Gas Works.

Why a new name?
It was time we looked at the service we provide with a more customer-focused, market-driven approach. We may be in the public sector but that shouldn’t preclude us from implementing some of the effective, business-building strategies used in the private sector. The reality is that our natural gas utility customers could walk away today and still have their energy needs met by electricity and other fuel sources like oil and propane. So, we need to focus on customer service and promote the many benefits of choosing natural gas in order to build preference for our services. Branding the natural gas utility is our mechanism to achieve a stronger, more agile, market-driven and customer-focused organization.

In addition, more than 70 percent of our customers reside in Henrico and in Chesterfield. The name Richmond Gas Works is reflective of our regional reach and speaks to all who call Richmond home.

Same service commitment to our customers.
We want you to know that this new name will not impact how customers interact with us on a daily basis. There will be no interruption of service. Account numbers will stay the same, and customers can pay their bill the same as they always have. Because many of you are also customers, we want you to remain confident in your natural gas service and help spread the word to others when you can.

Same organizational framework within DPU.
Organizationally, DPU has been here since 1851 when City Gas Works was created. We’ll retain our organizational structure around our five lines of business – natural gas, water, wastewater, storm water and streetlights.  Only the natural gas division will be known as Richmond Gas Works. 

Then, what’s different?
In the coming months, as part of the new brand, we’ll launch social media platforms, a new website (RichmondGasWorks.com), and rollout out a dedicated Richmond Gas Works customer service phone number (804-646-4646). Customers can choose to use the existing website and phone numbers they’re accustomed to – or can handle all their gas-related needs at the new options. As some of you already know, we’re starting to update employee uniforms to reflect the new brand and soon we’ll update our fleet.

Thank you for your work and service. We’re looking forward to this new chapter as Richmond Gas Works.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Making You Aware...Keeping You Safe!

The Natural Gas Safety Awareness Program of the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities is here to educate our customers and non-customers – all those who live, work, shop, worship or play near natural gas pipelines – about natural gas safety.

Watch this brief 17 minute video that will offer a brief history of the natural gas distribution system, and a detailed overview of the public awareness component of our overall safety program. Feel free to show it at your next neighborhood association meeting and let us know you watched it. DPU can get credit from our regulatory agencies for our Natural Gas Safety Awareness Program. The link to share is https://youtu.be/mAnmhQZYFKs

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Water Fill Station Rental

DPU has water fill stations for rent for various community events in the city of Richmond. These stations can supply the City's award-winning drinking water to your event attendees.

The free water supplied through the water fill stations is a great way to add value to your event. The stations have both drinking and spigot taps, suitable for a quick thirst quencher or to refill a water bottle. There's even a bottom spigot to collect water for dogs.

The stations are built of powder-coated steel and heavy duty plastic to withstand any weather, and nothing spills to create mud around the station. The molded splash pan catches the extra water and the drain hose moves it away from the fountain.

Water stations minimize waste and reduce clean-up by encouraging people to reuse their plastic water bottles. Use the stations to reduce your event's environmental footprint and promote sustainable practices.

The stations have been featured at the UCI Bike Race, Carytown Watermelon Festival, Bon Secours Washington Football Training Camp, and come with 10-foot flags so they can be easily located.

The requirements for a station are:

  • Event must be in the city of Richmond
  • Event must be family-friendly and open to the public
  • Event must occur during daylight hours
  • Desired station location must be within one foot of a fire hydrant, the water source for the unit
  • Desired station location must have adequate clearance for a service truck to deliver and remove it
  • The event promoter must have a $1 million general liability insurance policy that will cover the cost of repair and/or replacement of the station if they are damaged or destroyed during the event
  • Requests must be received at least three weeks in advance of the event
For more information or to submit a rental request, call 646-5200 or contact the Events Office, 646-0524.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Richmond Introduces New Utility Bill Format

Customers of the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will notice their bill format has received a facelift! The new bill format went out with the May 2017 utility bills. The new layout has been designed to provide more transparency, be easier to read, give historical information for comparison, and be more user-friendly and efficient for customers. All utility services, including natural gas, water, wastewater, stormwater, solid waste, and recycling services are featured on one bill.

“Improving the lives of our customers is at the heart of DPU. This new format will help customers understand their usage and manage their bill,” said DPU Director Bob Steidel.

The new design is in direct response to customer feedback and best management practices from other utility companies. Only the newly formatted design has changed; everything else regarding your public utility bills and payments will remain the same. You may continue to pay your bill using the following options: 
  • Automated Utility Payment Plan (AUPP) that allows customers to receive a paper bill and authorize DPU to deduct the monthly utility charges from their checking or savings account when the bill is due. 
  • Online bill payment at www.RichmondGov.com/DPU 
  • In-person at City Hall in Room 115, 900 E. Broad Street, East District at 701 North 25th Street, or Southside Community Center at 4100 Hull Street.
  • Payment drop box at City Hall after hours located on 10th Street between Broad and Marshall streets. 
  • Western Union – Over 100 payment locations throughout the city of Richmond and Henrico County. (Locations available on DPU’s web site) 
  • Mail your bill to City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, P.O. Box 26060, Richmond, VA 23274-0001 
DPU has a variety of ways for customers to manage and pay their utility bills. The EMPP (Equal Monthly Payment Plan) calculates and divides residential customer utility bill charges into 12 equal monthly installments, so no surprises. 

Please continue to contact the 3-1-1 Call Center at 311 (for customers within the City of Richmond) or DPU Customer Care at (804) 646-7000 with any questions regarding your bill. Utility bills continue to be due within 30 days of receipt. If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the bill will be due the next business day.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

DPU Makes Adjustments to Streetlight Performance Metrics

Several factors are contributing to a longer response time from the Streetlighting Division of the City
of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU). Customers can expect the following response times when calling to report streetlight outages:
  • 15 days: Initial response, assessment and evaluation
  • 16–30 days: Repair of general outage repair time for issues that do not involve infrastructure
  • 90–180 days: Repair of outages that involve infrastructure issues
“DPU’s streetlighting department is working to manage expectations until we are able to augment the above-mentioned factors. We expect this to be a temporary situation,” said DPU Director Robert Steidel.

The reporting mechanism for streetlight outages is the same. Streetlight outages may be called in directly to DPU’s City Streetlight division at (804) 646-8555, into DPU’s Customer Care Center at (804) 646-7000, or 3-1-1 for Richmond city residents. Information about streetlight outages may also be placed in RVAOne by visiting richmondgov.com and clicking on the RVAOne logo on the top right side of the page.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

E. Franklin Street Sewer Replacement Project

DPU is replacing 850 linear feet of a combined sewer on E. Franklin Street between Ambler Street and N. 19th. A combined sewer collects stormwater and sanitary sewer. The existing sewer was constructed in the 1880's or earlier!

The work will involve replacement of the existing sewer with new PVC pipe, installation of six new manholes, connecting the new sewer to the existing combined sewer system, reinstatement of multiple storm sewer and sanitary sewer laterals to the new combined sewer, and site restoration.

Here's the schedule:

Work Between Ambler St. and N. 17th St. (42” Pipe):
• May 2017 – June 2017
Work Between N. 17th St. and N. 18th St. (36” Pipe):
• July 2017 – August 2017
Work Between N. 18th St. and N. 19th St. (24” Pipe):
• September 2017
Final Restoration Work:
• October 2017

What is the purpose of the project?
The existing combined sewer is over 135 years old and is deteriorating.

How will the combined sewer replacement impact my sewer service?
We anticipate minimal sewer service disruption during construction to the three parcels located along the project corridor. Owners of these parcels will receive a minimum seven-day notice when the disruption will occur and its duration. Replacement of each lateral will be scheduled with each parcel owner for a time -- weekends, nights -- when the impact will be minimal.

Will the combined sewer replacement impact any other utilities?
No. Existing utilities crossing the excavation area will be temporarily supported in order to remain in service until the excavation is backfilled and compacted.

Will this work impact traffic in the area?
The work is primarily in the westbound lane of Franklin between Ambler and N. 19th. Road closures will be required, but will be phased so only a single block of Franklin or an intersection of Franklin and a cross street are closed at any given time. Roads will be reopened at the end of every work day unless there are unforeseen conditions.

Will this work impact on-street parking?
Yes. On-street parking will be restricted on roads closed during construction working hours. On-street parking will be available outside of construction work hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., week days. Some isolated tasks may need to be performed after hours or on weekends.

How long will this take?
Five to six months, weather permitting.

Will the project impact the Lumpkin's jail archeological area?
No. In the event that archeological findings are unearthed during excavation, the project will be stopped and the State Department of Historic Resources contacted.

Project manager: Quinton Nottingham, 646-5365
Media contact: Angela Fountain, 646-7323

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nutrient Pollution - Get a Free Soil Test

From the Environmental Protection Agency:
Nutrient pollution is one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that are natural parts of aquatic ecosystems. Nitrogen is also the most abundant element in the air we breathe. Nitrogen and phosphorus support the growth of algae and aquatic plants, which provide food and habitat for fish, shellfish and smaller organisms that live in water.
But when too much nitrogen and phosphorus enter the environment - usually from a wide range of human activities - the air and water can become polluted. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy.

Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Large growths of algae are called algal blooms and they can severely reduce or eliminate oxygen in the water, leading to illnesses in fish and the death of large numbers of fish. Some algal blooms are harmful to humans because they produce elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water, consume tainted fish or shellfish, or drink contaminated water.

Nutrient pollution in ground water - which millions of people in the United States use as their drinking water source - can be harmful, even at low levels. Infants are vulnerable to a nitrogen-based compound called nitrates in drinking water. Excess nitrogen in the atmosphere can produce pollutants such as ammonia and ozone, which can impair our ability to breathe, limit visibility and alter plant growth. When excess nitrogen comes back to earth from the atmosphere, it can harm the health of forests, soils and waterways.

Sources of this pollution:
  • Agriculture: Animal manure, excess fertilizer applied to crops and fields, and soil erosion make agriculture one of the largest sources of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the country.
  • Stormwater: When precipitation falls on our cities and towns, it runs across hard surfaces - like rooftops, sidewalks and roads - and carries pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus, into local waterways.
  • In and Around the Home: Fertilizers, yard and pet waste, and certain soaps and detergents contain nitrogen and phosphorus, and can contribute to nutrient pollution if not properly used or disposed of. The amount of hard surfaces and type of landscaping can also increase the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus during wet weather.

What can you do? Pick up after your pets, use commercial car washes and or wash your vehicle on the lawn, not the street or driveway, and don't overfertilize, and then just in the fall.

For a free soil test kit to see how much or how little fertilizer you really need, email gay.stokes@richmondgov.com. Kit includes instructions and a voucher to pay for the test.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fire Hydrants

Fighting fires is a tough job! No one knows that better than the firefighters at the city of Richmond. In 2016, city of Richmond firefighters put out an estimated 528 fires. This includes structural fires, vehicle and brush fires.

The city’s Department of Public Utilities are critical partners in this effort by maintaining the more than 6,000 fire hydrants owned by the city of Richmond. DPU currently inspects fire hydrants under a manual system on a bi-annual basis. By this summer 2017, DPU’s automated fire hydrant inspection program will be in effect, enabling DPU to inspect each one of the 6,000 fire hydrants every 12 months with the goal of one complete circuit per year.
To ensure adequate fire protection, each city owned fire hydrant is within 500 feet of another. Fire engines arrive at a fire with 500 gallons of water to combat the fire. The fire engines are equipped with hoses to reach hydrants within two blocks of any direction.
Of the 426 house fires reported over the last year within the city, hydrants have never been reported as being an issue or had any material effect on fire suppression efforts.

Residents with concerns about the operability of fire hydrants should call DPU at (804) 646-8600 

Friday, April 28, 2017

NOTICE to DPU Apartment and Small Commercial Natural Gas Customers

As part of the Department of Public Utilities' (DPU) ongoing commitment to compliance and safety standards, DPU is making apartment and other multi-family residential, as well as small commercial customers, aware of a recent regulation issued by federal regulatory agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This new regulation requires natural gas utilities to offer an Excess Flow Valve (EFV) on new and replaced service lines to its multifamily residential and small commercial customers. 

An Excess Flow Valve (EFV) is a mechanical shut-off device that can be installed on the natural gas service pipeline that runs from the street to the natural gas meter that serves the property. This is also referred to as a “service line."  An EFV is designed to shut off the flow of natural gas automatically if there is a break in the natural gas service line.

As an apartment building and small commercial natural gas customer, you may request that DPU install an EFV on the natural gas line that runs to your property. DPU will inform customers of the actual cost before the final decision.

Please note that EFVs cannot be installed on some service lines due to high gas flow, low pressure or other factors. If you request an EFV but your service line cannot accommodate it, you will be advised of this. Customers who request an EFV whose natural gas load does not exceed 1,000 SCFH (standard cubic feet per hour) must coordinate installation at a mutually agreeable date.

To request that an EFV be installed on your apartment building or small commercial natural gas service line, call DPU's Permitting Office at (804) 646-8544.

For more information concerning this new regulation, click on links below:



American Public Gas Association: