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Imagine a Day Without Water

Posted on October 8, 2017 by | Comments Off

Our Water SystemsWe’ve had a very active hurricane season this year and so far Hampton Roads has been spared. But you don’t have to look far to see what life without water services would look like. For those with hurricane damage in the most remote areas, like Puerto Rico or Key West, the recovery effort to restore everyday utility services may be a long road. And as our thoughts are with those recovering from these catastrophic storms, we recognize the “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign on Thursday, Oct. 12, to express our gratitude for the robust water and wastewater infrastructures that keep Hampton Roads flowing.

Imagine waking up in the morning to find the tap has gone dry. What would you miss most? Your morning cup of coffee? A hot shower? Cooking your favorite meal? How about the pitiful look on your pets’ faces when they realize there’s nothing for their water bowl? Whatever you’d miss most, the reality is that for the 1.7 million residents of Hampton Roads, access to clean, reliable tap water is as simple as turning on the tap. Water and wastewater services are one of the most reliable public services and we depend on these systems for growing our food, running our schools and hospitals, and fueling the economy and local entrepreneurship.

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Photo credit: Virginia Beach Public Utilities

Our region’s hard-working water and wastewater systems bring clean water to us and take sewage away to be treated before it is released safely back into the environment. But it’s not just water that you support with your monthly water and wastewater bill. While water falls from the sky and flows through our rivers, it is far from free. Collecting, storing, treating, and bringing water to and from our homes and businesses cost millions of dollars each year. Here in Hampton Roads, our public water systems are supported by 12 drinking water treatment plants with over 50 wells and 21 reservoirs storing over 34 billion gallons of water. And once we’ve used that water, more than 1,500 pump stations carry our sewage to the 10 wastewater treatment plants across the region. Just like our transportation routes, our region’s 6,500 miles of water distribution pipelines and over 5,800 miles of sanitary sewer lines need ongoing maintenance so that the reliable services they provide can continue uninterrupted.

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Photo credit: Virginia Beach Public Utilities

Investments in infrastructure range from smaller replacement project to large scale initiatives. HRSD’s Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow (SWIFT) will take highly treated water that is normally discharged into local rivers and put it through additional treatment to raise it to drinking water standards. The water can then be injected into the Potomac Aquifer, creating a sustainable water resource for future generations, while simultaneously addressing land subsidence and saltwater intrusion. Smaller projects, like the Beach Road replacement project in the Fox Hill area of Hampton, focus on replacing aging water mains with new lines that reduce the potential for leaks and breaks.

While our region’s water and wastewater systems may be out of sight, they should not be out of mind. On Oct. 12, join askHRgreen.org, your local water utilities and groups across the country as we recognize the “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign and the important role our underground water and wastewater systems play in delivering water services that fuel our economy, quality of life and vital health and public safety services. We invite you to join us in this effort by:  

  1. Giving up one activity that day that involves water and see what it’s like to go without. 
  2. Going  to www.shareH2o.org and consider a gift to the Help 2 Others (H2O) Program, a local 501(c)3 organization that assists families in danger of losing residential water service because of an unexpected crisis.
  3. Visiting one of our local water reservoirs to see firsthand where your water comes from and the trip it must make to be delivered to your home.  
  4. Discussing the importance of our region’s ongoing investment in this critical infrastructure by joining the conversation at facebook.com/askHRgreen.

 An investment that ensures our region’s public health, safety and economic vitality is one that should be maintained. It’s hard to imagine living without it.

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Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Community events, HR Green campaign updates, Using water wisely

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askHRgreen.org Hits the Streets with “Write as Rain” Campaign

Posted on April 18, 2017 by | Comments Off

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Launched this week (just in time for Earth Day) on sidewalks, streetscapes and thoroughfares throughout Hampton Roads, the motivational campaign will reveal a bevy of good-to-know “green” messages that become visible when wet.  

With the approval of local municipalities, askHRgreen.org committee members blanketed the region using custom-made stencils and an eco-friendly rain-resistant spray to adhere their messages to sidewalks in locations where residents gather. When it becomes wet, the surface around the message darkens while the stenciled area stays dry and light. The messages carry such sayings as: Only Rain Down the Storm Drain; No Wipes in Our Pipes; Your Morning Shower Starts with Tap Water; and Cigarette Butts are Litter, Too. There are 12 different messages in all!

Why “Write as Rain?”
The goal of the campaign is to inspire people to think about our Hampton Roads environment in ways they haven’t before. What’s more unexpected than a magically appearing message written with rain?

Grab your umbrella and head outside to enjoy the next rainy day in Hampton Roads and look for messages in Chesapeake, Hampton, Isle of Wight County, James City County, Newport News, Portsmouth, Smithfield, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, York County, and more locations. Find a message near you using our interactive map below and check back often as new locations are added.

Whenever you find one of our hidden messages, don’t forget to snap a photo to share with us on social media #askHRgreen.  

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Community events, Don't litter!, Fats, oils and grease disposal, Going Green, HR Green campaign updates, Keeping storm drains free, Reduce reuse and recycle, Waterways

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How it Was 25 Years Ago – HRWET to Water Awareness

Posted on March 3, 2017 by | Comments Off

HR WET Logo - OriginalOn a typical, cold, rainy February morning in 1992 at the General McArthur Memorial conference room, regional water utility representatives came together for the initial meeting of what would become the askHRgreen.org Water Awareness Committee. Coffee, donuts and bagels on the table provided sustenance to about 75 water utility directors, planners, administrative and budget employees from cities and counties throughout the Hampton Roads region while they discussed how to promote water conservation and wise water usage.

It just seemed ludicrous because the region is surrounded by water from the ocean on one side, to the bay, rivers and creeks on the other.  Isn’t that plenty of water?  The short answer is, no.  Salt water doesn’t do it. The Hampton Roads region was growing rapidly at the time. While new water resources were being sought, current usage needed to be “stretched.”  In a word, conserved.

Event2Event16 cities and counties under the umbrella of the Hampton Roads Planning District made the fateful decision 25 years ago to pool resources and form an educational team to create the conservation education program known as the Hampton Roads Water Efficiency Team or HRWET for short.  Our logo was the sun – Saving Today’s Water for Tomorrow’s Hampton Roads.

Today, HRWET is known as the askHRgreen.org Water Awareness Committee, one of four environmental educational groups – Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG), Recycling & Beautification, and Stormwater Education – that make up askHRgreen.org.

We’ve gotten a lot done in 25 years and look forward to continuing our efforts to education Hampton Roads about the value, quality and availability of Hampton Roads tap water. Enjoy this trip down memory lane!

Blog post contributed by Jerry Hoddinott, Chesapeake Public Utilities and original member of the HRWET team!

  11th Anniversary

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Posted in: HR Green campaign updates, Using water wisely

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askHRgreen.org Honors Environmental Action Award Winners

Posted on February 23, 2017 by | Comments Off

Mr. Amber LaMonte, teacher at York High School Dr. Ella Ward, Chesapeake City Council Member and HRPDC Chair Mr. Michael Hipple, Chair of the James City County Board of Supervisors and HRPDC Vice Chair Mr. Thomas G. Shepperd, Jr., Member, York County Board of Supervisors Mr. Neil Morgan, County Administrator, York County Last week, askHRgreen.org recognized two local schools and educators for their commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership. Wendy VanHosen, assistant principal at John Yeates Middle School in Suffolk, and Amber LaMonte, a teacher at York High School in Yorktown, each received the Environmental Action Award from askHRgreen.org on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) meeting in Chesapeake.

Ms. Wendy VanHosen, assistant principal at John Yeates Middle School Dr. Ella Ward, Chesapeake City Council Member and HRPDC Chair Mr. Michael Hipple, Chair of the James City County Board of Supervisors and HRPDC Vice Chair Mr. Lue R. Ward, Jr., Suffolk Council Member The Environmental Action Award was developed to recognize individuals who inspire youth (K-12) to have a positive impact on the environment by taking action in their schools or communities. The winning projects had previously received funding through the askHRgreen.org mini-grant program and were selected as outstanding by a panel of local askHRgreen.org representatives from the HRPDC’s 17 member jurisdictions and HRSD. The John Yeates Middle School and York High School projects were among 19 projects under consideration for the award, all of which were funded by askHRgreen.org in 2016.

John Yeates Middle School was recognized for VanHosen’s leadership of a school-wide recycling program.Students from JYMS, Suffolk

“This project is a shining example of what can be done when students, teachers and community partners work together,” said Katie Cullipher, askHRgreen.org team leader. “Not only did the project focus on the importance of recycling and reducing landfill contributions, but also on integrating diverse studies from art to science to social studies. The project itself is a sustainable initiative that will continue to impact students and the environment for years to come.”

At York High School, LaMonte helped the school’s green team improve availability and access to tap water and reduce plastic bottle waste by installing a water bottle filling station at the school.

Students from YHS, York County“We were impressed that the students tracked data on water usage and challenged their peers to reduce waste. Because of their efforts, the school experienced a 75 percent increase in the number of students carrying reusable water bottles,” said Cullipher. “While the projects may have started with a simple idea and a small amount of grant funding,  both serve as a legacy to their schools and will continue to remind students and faculty alike that we can each make an impact by thinking globally and acting locally.”

In addition to the award, each school received a check for $100.00 to be spent to further their project or to launch a new environmental initiative.

askHRgreen.org offers environmental education mini-grants of up to $500 to provide funding for environmentally-themed projects for students. All Hampton Roads teachers (K-12), youth leaders or organizations working with youth are eligible to apply. For details visit www.askhrgreen.org/mini-grant-program/

 

Posted in: For educators, HR Green campaign updates

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Cigarette Litter Prevention – One Year Later

Posted on July 8, 2016 by | Comments Off

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It’s been one year since the Hampton Roads region began tackling cigarette litter using a consistent message and a proven project model developed by Keep America Beautiful. The “Cigarette Butts = Litter” campaign kicked off in June 2015 at seven diverse locations across Hampton Roads. During the project, local teams and volunteers analyzed their sites, installed cigarette waste receptacles in strategic locations and conducted outreach directly to smokers encouraging them to be mindful of their disposal habits and offering them a pocket ashtray or auto ashtray for the cup holder of their vehicle.  Last fall we were excited to report an average 74 percent reduction in cigarette litter at the seven project sites. Today we are again happy to report that our average reduction has stayed nearly the same for over six months since intensive outreach activities ended. The average reduction today is still 69 percent fewer cigarette butts on the ground than before the launch of this effort.

We hope the results of this project will inspire others in the community to fight back against cigarette litter using this proven project model from Keep America Beautiful. The model can be applied to any public space including businesses, parks, entertainment venues and attractions, college campuses and more! Let’s keep up the momentum! Learn more about the KAB Cigarette Litter Prevention program then check out the free Cigarette Butts = Litter outreach resources in the askHRgreen.org Online Media Toolkit!

 

 

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, HR Green campaign updates

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