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Preparing for Hurricane Joaquin

Posted on October 1, 2015 by | Comments (0)

floodingWe don’t need to tell you that there are some powerful storm systems moving their way into Hampton Roads over the next several days. It seems like a million years since we had a clear, fall day and all that rain is set to continue through early next week. If Hurricane Joaquin decides to make landfall in northeast North Carolina, Hampton Roads will be set up to receive the strongest winds, highest storm surges and biggest rainfall totals from this predicted Category 2 storm. That’s stronger than the legendary Hurricane Isabel! Your city or county Stormwater Management teams are already hard at work clearing ditches and storm drains in an effort to reduce flooding. Please do your part and take action now to secure your home and help prevent street flooding in your neighborhood. Flood waters and storm damage know no property lines – help your neighbors prepare as well.

  • Clear Gutters and Ditches – Clear away vegetation, litter, tree branches and yard debris from any ditch, channel, storm drain, etc. on your property. This will help the flood waters flow freely into the stormwater system.
  • Secure Loose Items – Look around your yard for any item that may fly or float away and move it to a secure location. Loose items that float off into flood waters will worsen flooding by clogging drainage systems and flooding your street or yard. In the event that we receive high winds from Joaquin, loose items also pose a risk as dangerous projectiles that can endanger people and property.
  • Shelter Your Waste/Recycling Containers – Secure your trash/recycling containers indoors (i.e. garage, shed, etc.) to prevent trash from entering the stormwater system. If you are unable to secure the containers inside, attempt to weight the bottom of the receptacle and secure the top with a bungee or duct tape.
  • Prepare for Rising Flood Waters – If you live in a low-lying area, it’s not too early to think about moving important belongings off the ground in flood prone areas of your home or garage. In addition to your personal belongs, move hazardous household chemicals off the ground to prevent them from spilling into flood waters. Examples include motor oil, gasoline and lawn chemicals typically stored in your garage or shed.
  • Tune Into Local Emergency Communications – Your city or county will be providing a lot of information regarding city services during the storm. For important updates and news regarding closures, suspension of municipal services, shelter locations or evacuation requirements, please check in with your locality often. To find emergency information where you live, visit Ready Hampton Roads.
  • Check Your Emergency Supplies – Make sure you have the following items on hand in the event of prolonged outages of utility services: batteries, bottled water, flashlights/lanterns, easy to prepare meals, ice, activities for the kids, food for the “furry” kids and any medical care items you or your family may require. A battery operated radio is also essential for latest emergency information and updates during the storm.

You may also consider mentioning these tasks to your neighbors or better yet offer to help them prepare their homes and yards. Debris knows no property lines. Stay safe Hampton Roads!


Posted in: Household tips, Keeping storm drains free, Outdoor tips

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The Energy Payback on Investments in Replacement Windows

Posted on September 21, 2015 by | Comments Off

The 2015 Remodeling/Realtor Cost vs. Value Survey reports that typical replacement window projects cost homeowners between $11,198 and $17,422. When reselling their homes, the study says the owners can expect to recover 72 to 79 percent of their investment in replacement windows.

If owners upgrade to replacement windows rated by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) under the EPA Energy Star program and stay in their homes after the job is done, they’re likely to enjoy additional payback in the form of lower energy bills over the years. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates annual energy-cost savings of $71 to $501 when rated windows are installed. Rated windows bear a label that looks like this:Energy Star

NFRC rates windows in a number of areas—two have the most bearing on their energy performance:

  •  U-factor: A fraction that expresses a window’s overall insulating performance based on its frame material and glazing
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): A fraction that expresses the amount of solar radiation a window admits through the glass

Generally speaking, the lower the U-factor, the better for any window in any climate. But Energy Star standards take into account the relationship between a window’s U-factor and SHGC in evaluating the potential benefits of particular windows in different climates. To state it simply, in cold climates windows with a low U-factor and a high SHGC (which maximizes passive heat gain) are most likely to promote energy savings during winter months. In warmer climates, windows with a higher U-factor will serve well as long as the SHGC is low. The key question in parsing the ratings is: How do you spend the bulk of your energy dollars—on heating or cooling?

The analysis can be taken even further by refining  window selection not only by climate but also by orientation of windows with respect to the sun on different sides of a house. Energy Star has the following recommendations:

Window Recommendation








Of course, annual energy costs for a given home in a given year fluctuate with rates and weather. While the actual savings from investments in replacement windows are difficult to project with great accuracy, you’ll get the best bang from your energy buck by following the DOE recommendations as closely as possible.

Michael Chotiner is a construction industry veteran who writes on window installation and other homeowner topics for The Home Depot. Michael has been a general contractor for many years, and is also a master cabinet maker.

Posted in: Energy Saving & Cooling, Household tips

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And the Winner of Free Golf is….

Posted on September 10, 2015 by | Comments Off

….Ric Bagtas! Ric and three friends will enjoy 18 holes of golf at Greenbrier Country Club on October 12th for the 2nd Annual Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament. This prize pack includes cart rental, gift bag, adult beverages, lunch from Chick-fil-A and an awards dinner provided by Outback Steakhouse.

Not golfing with Ric? Don’t worry, there’s still time for you and your friends to get a team together. But we’re just a month away from this unique event so don’t delay, register today! 

Learn a little more about this great event… is pleased to partner with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) and Keep Virginia Beautiful in the 2nd Annual Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament on October 12th.  Last year’s tournament raised over $10,000, half of which stayed right here in Hampton Roads to provide funding for recycling and litter reduction programs in the 17 cities and counties that make up Hampton Roads. The programs in the region that this initiative supports demonstrate the ultimate in cooperation, collaboration and effective management of limited resources that benefit the region as a whole. This group is an incubator for innovation in stewardship and enhancing the natural beauty of our region. With the generous support of our sponsors, this year’s Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament will prove to be another positive venue to promote stewardship in the region. If you are interested in sponsorships, donations or golfing, please let us know at

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Golf Tournament

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National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Posted on September 9, 2015 by | Comments Off

Medication DisposalSeptember 26th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day!

Proper disposal of medication is essential to ensuring clean waterways and safe, drug-free communities. As part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on September 26th, law enforcement agencies across Hampton Roads will accept all prescription and over-the-counter medications from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Find the collection site nearest you by entering your zip code into the National Take Back Initiative Collection Site locator. The program is sponsored by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

If you can’t make it out to one of the prescription drug collection sites on September 26th, please remember that medications should never be flushed down the sink or toilet. Wastewater treatment is designed to treat the water that goes down toilets and sinks and make it safe to return to the environment. But a treatment plant cannot remove the active chemicals from medications once they’ve dissolved into the wastewater. When medication is poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet, they enter our waterways and have lasting impacts on the marine environment – especially that yummy seafood we all love to enjoy.

For more information on disposing of medications safely, please visit our medication disposal page for information on how to properly dispose of your expired, unused, or unwanted medication.

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Waterways

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Plant Native Plants This Fall

Posted on September 3, 2015 by | Comments Off

Courtesy of Lynnhaven River Now

Purple Love Grass
Photo Credit: Lynnhaven River Now

I was so excited to swing by the Brock Environmental Center last week to pick up my native purple love grass which I ordered from Lynnhaven River Now. They have a great initiative to feature a different native plant each month. You see, many plant growers would love to produce more native plants but there must also be customers interested in buying them! Lynnhaven River Now’s initiative tries to fill that gap. I’m a bit of a newbie to the native plant world myself, but I think my two new purple love grass plants will fit right in with my rising collection of natives including my beautyberry, silky dogwood, spiderwort, beardtongue, coneflower and coreopsis (just to name a few…)

So what is a native plant? Sounds like a bunch of jargon, I know. But native plants are a real thing and provide almost limitless benefits to our communities.  A native plant is one that is naturally adapted to thrive in our region. And because they have adapted to our climate over time, they require very little maintenance. When planted in the right spot for their needs, these plants require no extra watering, no chemical fertilizer and virtually no chemical pesticides. For the gardener or homeowner, this means less yard work and less money spent on yard chemicals and outdoor watering. For the environment, it means cleaner waterways and increased wildlife habitat – especially for pollinators like butterflies and bees. Native plants are often a source of food or habitat for a variety of animals and insects, many of which have seen sharp declines with the disappearance of their food or habitat source.




And let’s not forget that native plants are BEAUTIFUL! There’s a common misconception that native plants aren’t as pretty as non-native varieties that you find frequently at the big box garden store. But I guarantee that there is an equally beautiful and lower maintenance equivalent for almost any non-native plant that you love.

So now that you know what’s good to know about native plants, take the next step! There are lots of opportunities this month to pick up your very own native plants. Check out some of these upcoming events or learn more about Hampton Roads’ native plants.

Buy a Native Plant!

 Easy Ways to Learn More

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips

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