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:

Richmond Public Schools Rain Barrels

The winners are:
Best Environmental Message: No. 2 from Redd Elementary
Most Creative: A tie! No. 5 from Overby-Shepherd Elementary and No. 20 from J.B.Fisher Elementary
Big Reveal
1. Lucille Brown 2 Redd 3 Bellevue 4 Holton 5 Overby-Shepherd 6 Lucille Brown 7 George Mason 8 Reid 9 Chimborazo 10 Woodville 11 Elkhardt-Thompson 12 Westover Hills 13 Miles Jones 14 Unknown 15 Eklhard Thompson 16 Elkhardt Thompson 17 Southampton 18 JL Francis 19 Oakgrove Bellemeade 20 JB Fisher

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cheverly Road Drainage Study

Residents in the neighborhood bounded by Cheverly Road, Custis Road, and Kenmore Road should be aware of an engineering study to evaluate increased reports of drainage problems including culverts clogged with debris, ditch erosion, localized flooding, basement water damage, driveway and lawn damage, and untreated stormwater runoff.

Engineering staff from A. Morton Thomas and Associates will be visiting the neighborhood to investigate drainage concerns. This will require access to both public and private drainage systems throughout the area. Two public meetings will be announced to discuss the findings, possible solutions and get resident feedback.

The engineering study should be completed by July 2017. Site surveying, engineering design and construction will follow once funds are available. Residents will be notified when this begins. If you have any questions, call the project manager, Syed Imran, at 646-1394 or email

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Customer Photos

Customer Tara Thomas makes instant coffee and tea on her natural gas stove instead of leaving a coffee pot plugged in all day.

Sigi, Laura Dvorak's year-old Boston Terrier, wants everyone to know to pick up their pet waste. "We always carry baggies with us, and even have a sign in our yard to remind our neighbors to do the same."

Customer Stacey Heflin repurposes her trash to start seeds. She uses egg cartons, plastic cups and plastic strawberry boxes and uses coffee grinds for mulch.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Clean and Safe Water: Our Commitment to You

Clean and safe water. It is something everyone expects when they turn on the tap in their home. During the moments teeth are being brushed, water glasses are being filled or showers are being taken not many think about the source of the water. Clean and safe water takes work. Considering the city of Richmond’s water supply is the James River, consider the work it takes to pull water from that body of water to transform it into something we normally don’t give a second thought to consuming.

The city of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities has a robust water treatment plant, which produces award-winning water. The water it delivers meets and exceeds federal and state water quality standards including those regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA mandates the monitoring of various contaminants to ensure levels found in drinking water have no adverse health effects. With ongoing research and cautionary actions prompted by various factors, the spotlight on particular contaminants occasionally rise to the level of public concern. Chromium is a recent one.

Chromium is a naturally occurring contaminant that is in water supplies. It is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. According to the EPA, “chromium is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil, volcanic dust, and animals. Chromium-6 occurs naturally in the environment from the erosion of natural chromium deposits. It can also be produced by industrial processes. There are demonstrated instances of chromium being released to the environment by leakage, poor storage, or inadequate industrial waste disposal practices.

“The national primary drinking water regulation that established the [maximum contaminant level] for total chromium of 0.1 mg/l was promulgated in 1991. The SDWA requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed total chromium as part of the second six-year review that was announced in March 2010. The Agency noted in March 2010 that it had initiated a reassessment of the health risks associated with chromium exposure and that the Agency did not believe it was appropriate to revise the national primary drinking water regulation while that effort was in process.”

To assess the levels of chromium-6 in drinking water, EPA is requiring a selected number of systems to perform chromium-6 monitoring under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (UCMR 3). The city of Richmond has undergone four rounds of this testing. Test results have shown chromium-6 concentrations of between 0.00013 and 0.00052 mg/L. Currently, chromium-6 is unregulated by EPA.

However, there are EPA limits for total chromium, which would include the chromium-6 form. The regulatory limit for total chromium in drinking water is 0.1 mg/L. The City's results for total chromium on the same UCMR 3 testing events resulted in concentrations between 100 and 238 times lower than the EPA standard. The chromium-6 concentrations are even less. In comparison, California has some of the strictest limits for chromium-6 in the country. They set a limit of 0.01 mg/L for chromium-6 in drinking water. The City's water is well below this standard by a factor of 20 or more.

After incidents like the contaminated drinking water supply in Flint, Michigan, more people are paying closer attention to the quality of water they are consuming from their tap. Citizens should expect the providing authority to ensure the delivery of clean and safe drinking water and communicate issues openly and respond to customer questions. The city of Richmond goes above and beyond and consistently meets federal and state drinking water standards for public health.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pilot Program to Find Alternatives to Permeable Pavement Receives Funding

The State Water Control Board has authorized funding from the Virginia Water Facilities Revolving Fund to the City of Richmond of an interest-free loan in an amount up to approximately $1.3 million.

The loan will be used to finance a pilot program to identify the benefits and cost-effectiveness of alternatives to permeable pavement surfaces in city alleyways, and the impact of these alternatives on storm water runoff reduction.

“This loan will greatly benefit DPU’s ongoing commitment to utilize green infrastructure Best Management Practices within the storm water utility,” s­­aid DPU Director Bob Steidel. “Ratepayers will also see a benefit as a result of the interest-free funding.”  

Monday, April 10, 2017

My Water Smells Like Sulfur

If your tap water smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, there's probably sulfur bacteria and hydrogen sulfide gas in your building's water supply. If you only smell it when you turn on the hot water, it is highly probable it's a problem inside your hot water heater. In most instances, the water is still safe to drink, but hydrogen sulfide can damage your pipes as it is corrosive to many types of metal. It can cause black stains on silverware and plumbing fixtures.

Drain your water heater, and then turn on the hot water taps and let them all run for about 10 minutes to clear out the water still in the pipes. Raise the temperature of the hot water heater for 145 degrees for eight hours, but only if your hot water heater has a functioning temperature and pressure relief valve. Be sure to warn everyone in the household that the water will be unusually hot, and after eight hours, turn your water heater back to 120 degrees and not less. Less encourages bacteria growth, but higher than 120 can result in scalding burns.

If this doesn't solve the problem , then you may have to get a plumber to replace the magnesium anode rod -- if you have one -- with an aluminum one in your hot water heater.

If the smell is limited to the kitchen sink, then you have a partially clogged drain or a dirty garbage disposal.