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Infrastructure Can Make the Rain Go Away

Posted on May 19, 2016 by | Comments Off

Umbrella“Rain, rain, go away, come back another day” is a familiar nursery rhyme we all know. Our stormwater infrastructures help make rain “go away”.

But do we really understand how our city stormwater management system works? Engineers have designed a system for removing excess RAIN WATER!  It is called “stormwater infrastructure”

The system does NOT TREAT the rain water; instead, it directs the rain water to a nearby creek, river or the Chesapeake Bay. It does not take out oil, paint, soaps, fertilizers, grass clippings, leaves, yard debris, and litter including cigarette butts and tips. Those items POLLUTE and PLUG UP our drainage system, causing harm to our property, wildlife, marine life, and environment.

FLOODING occurs when:

  • The rainfall is greater than what the stormwater infrastructure was designed for.
  • Storm Surge (the abnormal rise of the sea caused by a storm’s atmospheric pressure & wind) flows up into our stormwater drainage system and onto the streets and land. (Nor’easters, hurricanes etc.) Storm Tide is the combination of Storm Surge & astronomical tide.
  • The stormwater system is blocked by debris, grass clippings, leaves, yard waste inside drainage pipes or at the entrance of the stormwater drainage system.
  • Soil sediment reduces the flow of water at entrance or inside drainage culverts.

Who is responsible?


  • Citizens are responsible to make sure that debris, grass clippings, leaves, and yard waste do not enter the street or drainage system on their property including the easement.  Also, they are to make sure on trash pickup day, the debris is not blocking the drainage system.
  • The municipality is responsible for keeping a routine maintenance cleanout schedule so rainwater flows properly, along with replacing broken or upgrading inadequate stormwater infrastructure of city owned structures.

Stormwater infrastructure looks a little different than your average street, bridge or communications tower. But it’s still up to us to work together to keep it flowing! Check out these common stormwater practices:

curb drop inlet

Curb Drop Inlet
(aka your storm drain)



Stormwater Outfall
(where your curb storm drain sends rain water)



This is not a ditch. It’s a Grass Swale and it needs to be kept clear of litter and debris!



Stormwater ponds – they spruce up the neighborhood but are meant to manage rainfall from our homes!




















Posted in: Keeping storm drains free, Waterways

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Buckroe Beach’s New Additons!

Posted on July 23, 2015 by | Comments Off

HA Buckroe Beach

“Grooving by the Bay” Concert Series
Buckroe Beach Park, Hampton, VA

Every Sunday evening through August 9th, hundreds will gather at Buckroe Park for Grooving by the Bay. Some will tap to the beat of a band and others will dance till the sun goes down or their feet ache. Whichever comes first!

Years ago ashtrays were in every vehicle, restaurant, business, and many homes. Today, ash receptacles are hard to find and businesses require smokers to smoke only outside. Last year at Buckroe Park there was no place to dispose of cigarette butts and cigar tips safely! According to “Keep America Beautiful” research, 32% of litter is found in outdoor recreation areas. Of course, the beach and park are no place for cigarette butt filters that contain a concentation of harmful carcinogens and are undigestable.  They may be picked up by children or eaten by wildlife thinking it is food.  Don’t despair!

HA Buckroe Beach CLPPGOOD NEWS! SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR! Thanks to a Keep America Beautiful  and their Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) grant along with $5,000 raised by through the annual Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament, ash receptacles have now been placed for smokers convenience at both Buckroe Park and Buckroe’s Fishing Pier!

Be on the lookout for our new additions placed at the pavilion, entrance to playground, restroom area, Sand Dollar picnic shelter, and park and fishing piers. Volunteers will also be passing out free pocket ashtrays to smokers during the Grooving by the Bay concert series. So far, recipients of pocket ashtrays are delighted to become advocates for creating a cleaner community not only for children, but our wildlife and waterways too. 

CigButtLitter-Pic2Come on down and listen to the beat of “Grooving by the Bay” Sunday evenings from 6:00- 9:00 pm. Last concert is August 9th. You just may see me or one of our volunteers passing out pocket ashtrays!  Please introduce yourself!

This blog contributed by Cris Ausink of the Hampton Clean City Commission.

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, Waterways

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Do you have a mystery lawn?

Posted on October 24, 2012 by | Comments Off

I did. I can’t remember who asked me what type  grass I had. With raised eyebrows, I  probably smiled and said, “green, along with a kelidiscope of colorful weeds and crabgrass.”  Little did I know then how important that question was if I wanted a healthy and environmentally friendly lawn!

We  in the Hampton Roads area are in the “transitional grass zone”.  This means that  both cool season and warm season grasses may grow here.

The  warm  and cool season grass terminology expresses the season when a plant grows and develops the most.  Therefore, it makes sense to fertilize your lawn when it is  developing its root system, a time when it needs nutrients the most!

Knowing whether you have a cool season or warm season grass will determine whether you  fertilize your lawn in the fall or the spring.  Quick hint:

  • Warm season grasses turn completely brown after first frost. They like full sun.
  • Cool season grasses are first to turn green early in the spring and last to stay green late into the fall. They can handle both sun and shade, but may turn brown in an extremely hot summer.

By the way, please don’t give your grass a Thanksgiving dinner! It does not eat leftovers! Grass only absorbs what it needs, when it needs it! If you give your lawn more fertilizer than required, or  feed it at the wrong time, the excess fertilizer  (leftovers) laces runoff with nitrogen the next time it rains. Therefore, fertilizing your lawn in the appropriate season with the correct  amount christens you as a “faithful steward of your time, money, and our environment.”

For more lawn and garden tips, visit

Still not sure about what type grass you have? Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office for more information.

Posted in: Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips

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The Wrong Kind of Howl!

Posted on October 16, 2012 by | Comments Off

Ahhhhhh! Oh, NO! NO! NO! I howled. I can’t believe it! I looked down at my white tennis shoe with the little white mesh holes now enveloped in a humongous soft brown substance with the fragrance of a cesspool!  I was putting the last stake in my public information tent when I backed up into a large deposit of dog feces on the outside of a park fence.  Ugh. Perhaps you are one of those few who have a similar story to tell?

The scary part is this: though dog feces is “natural” along with other feces, a small number of people understand that feces can have an impact on not only on our health and our neighbors’ health, but also on the health of our waterways. It is just not something we normally think about. But it is so important that some cities, including Hampton, have an ordinance (Class -4 Misdemeanor) requiring that dog owners or caretakers pick up their dog’s waste and dispose of it properly.

Why have such ordinances? Doesn’t everyone pick up their dog’s waste and deposit it in the trash? Perhaps you are someone who considers dog feces compost and therefore leaves it on the ground. After all, animal manure is valuable to amend soil, right? However, according to research, dog and cat feces are not recommended in your garden or as compost because of the parasites and bacteria their feces may carry (Source: the Gardener, Vol 7 No. 2, Summer 1996, Van Bobbitt, community horticulture coordinator, WSU Puyallup

According to the CDC (National Center for Disease Control) dog feces can contain:

  • Campylobacteriosisv- can cause latent autoimmune effects
  • Cryptosporidiosis –  infection of the small intestine that causes diarrehea
  • Zoonotic hookworms – can infect the intestine and cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea
  • Salmonella – can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps

These health factors are especially important to children under five years of age, cancer patients and those whose immune systems are weakened. Additionally, when feces washes into our waterways via ditches and storm drains, beaches may have to be closed because of high bacteria count.  In addition, the nitrogen pollution from feces washed into our waterways promotes excess algae growth known as algae bloom. Neither is healthy for us or our marine ecosystem.

You certainly don’t want what happened to me to happen to children as they walk the neighborhoods this Halloween! The next time you take your dog out for a walk, place several plastic grocery bags in your pocket so you can pick up your “buddy’s” deposit. After scooping, tie the bag up tightly and place in trash when you get home.  That qualifies as  a wonderful act of kindness!

Posted in: Lawncare, Outdoor tips

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Posted on October 11, 2012 by | Comments Off

Hello, Mr. Fescue! How are you feeling today? Hmmm, I see you are not feeling too well. I’ll need to ask you a question before we continue with this exam.

When was the last time you had your soil tested? What? Never had your lawn soil tested before? Interesting.

Well, I recommend you get your lawn soil tested every three years. You may be lacking some nutrients you need to resist disease and endure a hard winter or an extremely hot summer next year.  I’m sure you are aware that having too much or too little of these nutrients can be harmful to your plant growth.  Also, by getting tested you will learn the recommended amount and type fertilizer necessary to make you healthy again. Why take medicine you don’t need! Be sure to tell your owner to follow directions on soil testing package very carefully and not to take a sample when you are wet.

Since you are in the cool-season fescue grass family, it is important you do this testing now and fertilize yourself accordingly this fall- September through November. Those in the warm-season grass family like Bermuda, Zoysiagrass, Centipede, and St. Augustine may wait until after the frost in the early spring to do their lawn testing.

Any questions?

Can I get a soil test kit over the counter? Yes, you can. Call to your local garden center or hardware store and see if they have soil testing kits available. Just make sure the soil kit includes testing for nitrogen (needed for blade growth) and phosphorus (needed for root growth).

Are there other options?

Remember, as a grass you only take in what you need. If you are given more than you need, it ends up as runoff in our waterways and is harmful to our marine ecosystem.

This soil test is just what all “lawn doctors” should order. If you need help interpreting the results, or have questions, please be sure to contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. They are there to help you!

Posted in: Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips

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