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Know Your Beach is Safe

Posted on August 28, 2014 by | Comments Off

BeachClosedRecent beach closures have been a cause of concern in Hampton Roads.  As you make your Labor Day plans, become educated on beach monitoring and enjoying the beach safely.  Protect your health while swimming at the beach.  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends the following simple steps to protect your health while swimming at the beach:

  • Observe Swimming Advisories–do not enter the water at a beach when swimming advisory signs are posted.
  • Avoid swallowing water or having water forced up your nose when swimming; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that can cause gastrointestinal or neurological illnesses.
  • Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall; bacteria levels are likely to be high and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after rainfall due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
  • Prevent direct contact of cuts and open wounds with recreational water; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that may cause skin infections.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where dead fish are present; dead fish may indicate that water conditions are poor or hazardous materials are in the water. Please contact the Department of Environmental Quality (804-698-4000) if you observe a fish kill.
  • Don’t swim if you are ill or have a weakened immune system; some organisms are opportunistic and may only cause illness when you are already ill or your immune system is weakened.
  • Shower with soap after swimming; showering helps remove potential disease-causing organisms.
  • Swim away from fishing piers, pipes, drains, and water flowing from storm drains onto a beach.
  • Do not dispose of trash, pet waste, or dirty diapers on the beach.  Use proper receptacles.

Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean during the swimming season (May-September). Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued.  To stay up to date on beach conditions, follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter (@VDHBeach) to receive  notifications of the status of current swimming advisories, or log on to:

Posted in: Waterways

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There’s a lot of water around here!

Posted on October 10, 2013 by | Comments Off

rainy day

Living in Hampton Roads allows us to work and play in, on, under and around the water all year long. With our ocean, bays and beaches, rivers, canals, lakes and waterways of all kinds— not to mention, rainfall of more than 45” a year—water is an important part of our lifestyle here in Hampton Roads. That means things can be beautifully green. They can also be a bit soggy. But knowing how to protect yourself and your property will help you make the most of our climate.


Ways to Protect Yourself

  • Do not walk or drive through floodwaters. There’s no way to tell how deep the water is or how fast it’s moving.
  • Give water a clear way to leave your property. This may require patience!
  • Be ready. Make plans to ensure your family’s safety, just as if you were preparing for a hurricane.

Ways to Protect Your Personal Property

  • Make a complete inventory of your personal property so you have proof of ownership. Do this now, before there’s an issue.
  • Photographs, videos and inventory forms from your insurance company are very helpful.

It’s high time we talk about high tide.

With so much shoreline, it’s important to recognize the impact tides can have on us. Certainly, abnormal tides and storm surges can cause flooding, but flooding can still occur if the moon and the tide align with a storm passing offshore. It is always a good idea to watch the tidal reports, low and high. You can be the difference between water moving and water standing on your property. If a storm is predicted, stay tuned and stay informed so you can prepare. Local TV stations, radio stations and Internet sites will carry all the latest news to keep you up to date.

Posted in: Waterways

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Geography Awareness Week

Posted on November 14, 2011 by | Comments Off

This year’s Geography Awareness Week theme–The Adventure in Your Community–promotes the idea that the geographic perspective is an important way to understand every community, no matter what size, or how long or briefly one has been a part of it.

National Geographic and partners invite families, teachers and students to visit to begin completing geographic missions and earning rewards. A wealth of valuable resources, including printable posters, mission booklets and an organizing toolkit are available for teachers, parents and students on the Geography Awareness Week website.

Posted in: For educators, Research, Service Learning

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It’s Not Too Late to Green Your Halloween!

Posted on October 26, 2011 by | Comments Off


Local Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily blogger, Desiree Parker, affectionately known as the ECOfreak, reminded me that there is still time to add a little green to your Halloween plans.  Here are some tips to make your Halloween festivities a little easier on the environment . . .

  • Reusable trick-or-treat bags. Deck out your ghosts and goblins with the traditional plastic pumpkin bucket that can be reused for years, or opt for a reusable tote.  Make it a craft project to give it some Halloween flair, or just use one you keep in the car for shopping.
  • Costume swaps. I’ve seen my neighbors’ children change their minds three times this month about their costume plans, but now we’re getting down to the wire.  Gather your friends and neighbors and all of your old costumes for a swap meet.  You may find the perfect costume and you will definitely save money!
  • Hand out loose candy. Get rid of those individual treat bags for handing out candy.  Just grab a handful and give to each monster or fairy princess who visits.
  • Creative costumes. Thrift stores and consignment shops may have just the thing to turn you into a Hollywood starlet, superhero, mobster, mermaid or zombie.  You could even donate some items while you are there and help a worthy cause.

All of these tips reduce waste that would otherwise go to the landfill, saving disposal space and taxpayer dollars.  And that’s another way to put more green in your Halloween!  For more great green tips and information on green-happenings in Hampton Roads, visit today!

Posted in: Going Green, Holidays, Uncategorized

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Green Up Your BBQs & Tailgates

Posted on August 16, 2011 by | Comments (1)

Recycling Space Saver for Your Party

A recycling space-saver for your next BBQ

A colleague showed me this clever device she had won as a door prize at a recent conference of recycling folks.  It’s called a flingsTM bin and it is a recycling receptacle.   I got so excited, I immediately made her open it so we could ponder the potential of this latest widget to encourage recycling.

The flingsTM bin is a pop-up recycling station.  Sounds good in theory, right?!  But it is merely a temporary recycling center.

You still have to dump the container into your official recycling bin because you can’t recycle the flingsTM bin.  You can put it in the trash–it claims to be biodegradable–but only after you empty it.  Kind of seems like double work to me.  The rigid sides look like mini-blind slats which, if I recall, are NOT biodegradable.  So my excitement waned.  But if you need smaller, temporary containers for your next party, tailgate or BBQ, the flingsTM bin may be the space saver you’ve been looking for.

Join the conversation and let us know about your favorite gizmo to make greening Hampton Roads a bit easier!

Posted in: Beautification, Don't litter!, Going Green, Household tips, Outdoor tips, plastic bags, Reduce reuse and recycle

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