Did you know…
Our waterways seem to be getting clearer! The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has recently reported findings that suggest our waters have been clearer than they have been in years. This could be because of a period of dry weather this summer, but it can also be because of pollution reductions. What’s more, the City of Suffolk has found the same thing! The Suffolk Public Works conduct monthly monitoring on the Nansemond River and other tributaries draining into the Chesapeake Bay. Recent lab results are consistent with the same water clarity identified by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
What does it mean to have clearer water?
- Healthy waters for swimming and fishing
- Better habitat for aquatic life that aids in filtering pollutants from the water such as oysters
- Clearer water provides aesthetics for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Sunlight can reach underwater plants to increase oxygen in our water: more oxygen = more aquatic life
- “Everything flows downstream”: A cleaner bay = cleaner watersheds where we live, work, and play.
How can you help keep our water looking clearer?
For more information on reporting environmental concerns or water monitoring contact email@example.com or call (757) 420-8300 to connect with the local stormwater professionals in your locality.
Blog contributed by Lacie Nixson, City of Suffolk Environmental Engineer.
Courtesy of Confused.com
I recently moved into a house with all sorts of fun new amenities, one of which is a garage with an automatic door opener. I didn’t have such luxuries growing up. We had a two-door garage with a massive wooden door that my family and I would have to heave up by hand anytime we wanted in the garage. My parents are champs and continued to do so up until just a couple years ago when they entered the new millennium and got an automatic opener. Now you just have to press a button and like magic, the door opens.
But after the novelty of this opener wore off at my own house, I started to wonder just how much electricity it took to make this magic happen. I found myself opening and closing the door for every little thing – sometimes 5-6 times a day – and the tiny environmental voice in my head was telling me this was probably wasteful. So I did what I always do when I have these types of questions: I googled.
Research Results: I don’t understand wattage. It’s confusing and there’s a lot of math involved. Thankfully after a little more digging I found a really useful tool that made it easy for me to compare wattage use between appliances. I found that the usage for the garage door opener actually wasn’t all that much. Things like a toaster, a hair dryer, a vacuum cleaner and an iron all use more energy (another excuse to rarely vacuum and NEVER iron!) A surprising find to me? Coffee makers use more than double the amount a garage door opener uses. I had no idea!
There is a catch – phantom loads. Phantom loads describes the power used while an appliance isn’t in use but is plugged in. Garage door openers are basically always on because they have to be ready to receive the radio signal to open up. So while you may only actively use the opener a couple minutes each day, the machine is always drawing a small amount of power. That can add up. While you probably won’t disconnect your opener from the electrical source after each use, you can certainly take that lesson on to other appliances in your house. Unplug everything you’re not using to keep from wasting energy.
So it doesn’t look like I have to completely stop using the garage door opener which I’m happy about because apparently putting a key into a keyhole and twisting it is just too much of a struggle for me. (I do plan to never iron again – just for the sake of the planet, of course.) But I will try to use the front door instead of the garage door whenever I can since any wasted energy, no matter how small, is still wasted!
Ski resorts on the East Coast are nervous and stressed. They should be bustling with activity, greeting skiers and holiday vacationers alike. But this winter has been unseasonably warm and warm winters are bad for resorts that depend on snowy slopes. Some resorts are still closed even as the new year approaches. For years, ski resorts have been employing technology to make the snow they need to do business. The artificial snow is made using ground water or water drawn from a natural water source like a river or lake. The water is then pumped through a snow maker and blown onto the course to build the perfect slopes. Just how much water does that take? Well depending on the weather and location of the resort, it could take anywhere from 3 million to more than 35 million gallons of water for a resort to stay snowy. Each snow machine uses about 50 gallons of water a minute! But even artificial snow is hard to come by on the drought-ridden west coast. Water usage restrictions and less naturally developing snow have forced resorts to get creative with making snow. And if the temperatures don’t fall to freezing, even artificial snow machines won’t help the struggling ski-based tourism industry.
But out of adversity comes great innovation. And because water is such a limited resource, I was excited to learn that resorts are looking to reclaimed wastewater as a solution to their lack of snow. (No, that doesn’t mean it’s yellow snow!)
Current wastewater treatment technology is so advanced that it can churn out water that looks and tastes like tap water and is safe to drink. There’s definitely an ick factor to consider, but then again it is all just water. The water we have is all we’ll EVER have so expanding reuse and recycling of wastewater is key when considering the resource needs of future generations. Areas impacted by the recent drought have learned firsthand that innovation and reuse of wastewater are the keys to blending our high quality of life with resource management.
Now let’s all do a snow dance to bring freezing temperatures and precipitation to the East Coast skiing destinations — but let’s keep it out of Hampton Roads. I’ll take a winter in flip-flops any day!
A naturally grown wreath or Christmas tree sets the perfect stage for a cozy and comfortable holiday. Sadly, your fresh pine decor doesn’t stay fresh forever. When it’s time to toss this naturally-grown seasonal decor, give it a proper sendoff. There are many easy ways you can reuse your natural decorations. You can use the wood to make crafts or gifts; “spruce” up your yard (pun intended) with borders and mulch, or create a backyard habitat for wintering birds and cuddly critters. But, for an easy alternative to tossing out your Christmas tree, find out how your city or county is collecting them. In most cases, naturally-grown Christmas trees and wreaths are accepted by your locality and mulched or composted to reduce landfill contributions. This also produces a low cost mulch or compost material that your city or county can use to maintain parks and shared green spaces right in your community. Some localities are even able to sell mulch or compost made from locally recycled yard waste back to the public.
But before you send off your Christmas tree or wreath, remember to remove all lights, tree stands and decorations including tinsel, ornaments and wires. Painted trees or those that are flocked (aka covered in fake snow) aren’t accepted either. Only the natural parts of your trees and wreaths can be accepted for mulching and composting.
Christmas lights and most decorations should NOT be recycled in your curbside bin, either. Consider donating these items to a local charity instead. For a complete list of materials you should be recycling at the curb this holiday season, you can review this handy holiday recycling guide.
OK Hampton Roads, let’s make sure all of our holiday waste ends up in the proper place this year and get 2016 off to a great, green start!
As of this date, the following cities and counties have announced their natural Christmas tree recycling/pick-up schedules.
Chesapeake | Gloucester | Hampton | Isle of Wight | James City County | Newport News | Norfolk | Poquoson | Portsmouth | Smithfield | Suffolk | Surry County | Virginia Beach | Williamsburg | York County
When: Dec. 26–Jan. 15
Where: Trees will be picked up on the regular trash collection day. Trees placed at the curb between January 2 and 15 will be recycled.
What to know: Remove all ornaments, tinsel and the stand. Place it separately from bulk waste and regular trash so it can be easily collected. Please do not put in a bag or put netting around it.
Where: Residents may place Christmas trees in the brush container at any Gloucester County Convenience Center during regular hours. See the list below for locations.
- Middle Peninsula Landfill and Recycling Center – 3714 Waste Management Way (Entrance on Route 17). The Convenience Center at the Landfill operates on the same schedule as the other County Convenience Centers: Monday – Friday 8 AM to 7 PM and Saturday 7 AM to 7 PM.
- Belroi – 5122 Hickory Ford Road
- Dutton – 10430 Burke’s Pond Road
- Court House – 6550 Beehive Drive
- Hayes – 7599 Guinea Road
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched along with other yard debris. Mulch is provided free of charge to county residents from the main landfill location. However, residents are strongly encouraged to call ahead to ensure mulch is available for pickup.
Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 N. Park Lane (off Big Bethel Road at entrance to Bethel Landfill) from 8 AM to 3 PM. Monday – Saturday (closed city holidays).
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.
Isle of Wight
Where: Natural Christmas trees can be recycled at any of Isle of Wight’s eight convenience centers.
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be composted.
James City County
When: Dec. 26–Jan. 31
Where: James City County’s three convenience centers (listed below).
- Jolly Pond Road – 1204 Jolly Pond Road – Open every day 7 AM to 5 PM.
- Tewning Road – 117 Tewning Road – Sunday – Closed, Monday 8 AM – 12 PM, Tuesday – Saturday 8 AM – 4 PM.
- Toano – 185 Industrial Boulevard (Hankins Industrial Park) – Open every day 8 AM – 4 PM.
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.
Where: Natural trees are recyclable as regular brush, and may be placed on the curb as brush collection.
What to know: Please remove the root ball and any non-natural decorations including tinsel and lights. Place tree in a brush pile separate from any bulk being set out. Christmas trees (live or artificial) may also be brought to the Recovery Operations Center located at 550 Atkinson Way. Trees will be composted or mulched.
Where: Natural trees are collected for composting on regular trash day as part of Norfolk’s yard waste collection service. In addition, residents can bring natural trees, holiday lights and artificial trees to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center – 1176 Pineridge Road, Monday through Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM. Artificial trees may also be scheduled for bulk waste collection by calling the Norfolk Cares IMPACT Center at (757) 441-5813, or by completing a request online at www.norfolk.gov/BulkWasteForm. For more information, contact Norfolk’s Department of Public Works Division of Waste Management at 757-441-5813 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
When: Dec. 25–Jan. 20
Where: Residents can drop off natural trees to be composted at the Municipal Pool Parking Lot (16 Municipal Drive, Poquoson)
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Christmas trees and yard waste are accepted year-round at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.
Where: Curbside; residents may place their tree at the curb for pickup on their normal trash collection day.
What to know: Trees are not recycled into compost or mulch.
When: Through Jan. 14
What to know: You must contact Kathy Bew-Jones at 365-4200 or email@example.com and provide your address if you have a Christmas tree to be picked up. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights. Trees will be composted.
When: Dec. 27-Jan. 9
What to know: Trees are not recycled, but residents can put them out for disposal for two weeks after Christmas with their regular trash and the collection will not be deducted from their (12) annual free bulk collections.
When: Jan. 1-Jan. 31
Where: Surry County Collection Centers (listed below)
- Goodson Path Solid Waste Station – 409 Goodson Path, Dendron
- Pineview Solid Waste Station – 101 Pineview Road, Waverly
- Mantura Road Solid Waste Station – 60 Mantura Road, Surry
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Please ask attendants for assistance to ensure that your tree is placed in the designated container.
When: Normal trash collection day
Where: Curbside or the Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center at 1989 Jake Sears Road with proof of residency.
What to know: Christmas trees will be handled as normal yard debris and need to be free of any decorations or tinsel. All trees and yard debris will be mulched.
When: Jan. 4 and Jan. 11
What to know: The City Crews will be collecting Christmas trees on Monday, January 4 and Monday, January 11. Trees must be placed at the curb before 7 AM and should be free of the stand, ornaments and lights. Please place separately from bulk waste and regular trash. Trees will be mulched.
When: Jan. 4-Jan. 8
Where: Curbside – tree must be at curb by 7 AM on January 4 for collection that week
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, lights and should be no bigger than six feet in length. For all York County residents, including non-subscribers, Christmas trees are accepted throughout January at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM. York County residents who subscribe to the trash program may bring yard waste to the VPPSA Compost Facility year-round.
York County will extend its free Christmas tree curbside collection program to all county communities, including those that do not subscribe to the county’s curbside collection programs. In order to provide this service to those communities not on a curbside collection program, the county’s Waste Management division will require approval from your Homeowners Association or community management group as well as a designated drop-off site within your community where residents can bring their trees. Please keep in mind the designated site will need to be in a location that can provide access to the large knuckleboom truck that is used for collections. If you have questions or would like to have the curbside collection extended to your community, please contact Laurie Halperin, York County Division of Waste Management, no later than Friday, December 30, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone by calling 890-3780 to confirm and discuss logistics for this special collection.
Residents who currently subscribe to the county’s solid waste collection program may place their trees at the curb by 7 a.m. on Monday, January 4, for collection during that week. As an alternative, all York County residents, including non-subscribers, may deliver their own Christmas trees to the VPPSA Compost Facility located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays 8 am until 5pm (through January.) York County residents who subscribe to the trash program may bring yard waste to the VPPSA Compost Facility year-round.
Trees must not be placed in tree bags and all lights, tinsel, and ornaments must be removed. Trees larger than 6’ should be cut in half.
If you have questions or would like to have the curbside collection extended to your community, please contact Laurie Halperin, York County Division of Waste Management, no later than Friday, December 30, by email to email@example.com or by phone by calling 890-3780 to confirm and discuss logistics for this special collection.
Blog post contributed by Laurie Halperin, Recycling & Beautification Coordinator, York County.