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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 Green App for That!

Posted on August 27, 2014 by | Comments Off

green apps pic copyIt’s 2014, people – going green has gone digital!  We live in a world where there’s an app for everything and that includes green living.  Here are 5 green apps that help you be a better friend to the environment.  (And they’re all available on both Apple and Android devices and are free!)

TapIt – Of course I had to start with the coolest app on the planet –’s TapIt app!  Yes I’m biased but in all seriousness, it’s a genious idea.  The  TapIt app allows you to tap into a network of local businesses who would love to fill your water bottle with clean, refreshing tap water – for free!

GoodGuide – I have just started using this app and I’m already obsessed.  It helps you find “safe, healthy, green and ethical products.”  Maybe you prefer to buy skin care items that are not tested on animals and have no toxic chemicals or perhaps you’re searching for organic, fair trade food items.  This app can take the guess work out of finding the right product for you!  Find items in several different categories such as Personal Care, Food, Household and Babies & Kids.

iRecycle – Powered by Earth911, this app helps you find out what you can recycle and where you can recycle it.  It puts the power of recycling into the palm of your hand!  (Search the Apple store or Google Play for this app.)

PaperKarma – When I get lots of mail, I get really excited – until I realize it’s all junk!  PaperKarma to the rescue!  Just take a picture of the unwanted mail and PaperKarma will make sure you’re removed from the mailing list.  Now that’s good karma.

Seafood Watch – We are a seafood-lovin’ region here in Hampton Roads but did you know your dinner choice could be harming the environment?  This app is a great way to check out if your favorite seafood dish is sustainable, meaning the fishing or farming of it can “maintain or increase production into the long-term without jeopardizing the affected ecosystems.”  Eat without the guilt with this app!

There are tons of other green apps out there.   Which are you using? 

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Going Green, Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle, Uncategorized, Using water wisely

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Hurricane Prep for the Yard

Posted on August 22, 2014 by | Comments Off

storm-pics-2007-1-801184-mUs Hampton Roadians (can I call us that?) are no strangers to hurricane preparations.  We know how important it is to be prepared ahead of time with water, canned goods, batteries, flashlights and other items to keep us safe inside the home.  But what about outside the house?  Now – while the sky is blue – is the time to take a look at your yard to make sure it’s ready for future storms.  Here are a few tips:

  • Cut back trees and remove any weak or dead branches that could pose a threat to your (or your neighbor’s) home.  Consider hiring a certified arborist who can evaluate the health of your trees and suggest ways to trim them back while keeping them alive and well.
  • Maintain drainage structures on your property such as ditches, drains or retention ponds by keeping them free of debris and weeds.  You can also contact your local Public Works Department for additional guidance.
  • Store hazardous materials properly and make sure they’re secure and sheltered before a storm hits.  High winds and flooding can easily carry things like motor oil, gasoline and other chemicals from your back porch and into the storm drain. 
  • Make sure you have a way to secure all loose items in your back yard.  Don’t wait until the day before a hurricane to realize you have no place to put those lawn chairs! 

You may also consider mentioning these facts to your neighbors or offering to help them prepare their yards.  Just because the tree isn’t in your yard doesn’t mean the dead branches won’t come through your window!  Debris knows no property lines.

Posted in: Outdoor tips, Uncategorized

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Start Your Company’s Go Green Efforts With Paper Recycling

Posted on August 19, 2014 by | Comments Off


While huge go green initiatives have garnered extensive attention on a worldwide scale, it’s important to remember that, when it comes to making the environment a top priority, it doesn’t have to be a “go big or go home” mentality. In fact, for many organizations, starting with smaller initiatives can yield extensive overall impact and set the foundation for larger actions in the future.

What’s one of the best ways to start your business’s go green efforts? Implement paper recycling. Paper recycling provides a streamlined, straightforward process that can quickly be implemented in even the largest organizations and corporations. Oftentimes, simply setting up recycling bins throughout the office is all it takes to encourage all employees to embrace the process.

Making paper recycling an integral part of your company’s day-to-day operations instantly yields a distinctive range of environmentally-friendly benefits such as:

  • Reducing capacity at landfills: Items that aren’t properly recycled can spend a lifetime taking up space in already crowded landfills and dumps. Choosing to repurpose your paper ensures that it won’t end up in trash heaps.
  •  Minimizing gas emissions: Not only do non-recycled items take up unnecessary space in landfills, but trash accumulating in these dumps has been proven to emit gasses into the environment. Choosing to recycle eliminates the chance that your products will contribute harmful gas emissions to our delicate ecosystems.

Paper Recycling: The First Step To Minimizing Your Corporate Carbon Footprint

For many organizations, paper recycling is such an easy solution that it actually encourages the company to strategize other ways to minimize its overall carbon footprint. There are a wide range of strategies an organization can implement to help ensure that it’s doing everything it can to make the environment a top priority. Expanding office recycling programs or operations recycling programs to include cardboard, glass and/or scrap metal are a few of the simple ways that businesses in every industry can enhance their current go green efforts.

There are even sustainability firms that can help your business go green – whether you’re just getting started or looking for that “zero landfill” status. Partner with one of these firms for a comprehensive plan for achieving sustainability. For example, a waste management firm can help create customized trash and scrap solutions to not only help your business do its part for the environment, but also help your company reduce operational costs for the ultimate corporate win/win.

Guest blog submitted by Tom Campeggio, Controller for Combined Resources.

Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle

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Be a Good Mate and Keep Our Waterways Ship Shape!

Posted on August 13, 2014 by | Comments Off

Smithfield Station in Isle of Wight - A Virginia Clean MarinaIf you’re a boater in Hampton Roads, you probably don’t need to be told that our waterways are a valuable resource. And you probably already know that it is important to have a thriving population of fish and crabs. And you definitely understand that the Chesapeake Bay is stunning and beautiful and worth protecting…

But what you might not realize is that by default boaters are the voice of clean water! Yep, the Salt Life sticker on the back of your truck or the Bass Pro Shop hat on your head tells the world “I support clean waterways!” Surprised? Don’t be! You know how important clean water is! It’s likely that you’ve seen the impacts of water pollution firsthand. So now that you know you have a hand to play in clean waterways, what are you and all your boat-loving friends going to do about it? We’ll make it easy for you. Just follow these good to do tips and share them with a friend!

  • Butts on Board – The most common type of litter found in waterways? Cigarettes butts! Don’t throw these little bits overboard – they add up to a big mess that takes years to decompose.
  • Secure Your Trash – Don’t let fishing line, drink bottles/cans, or wrappers from your snacks get lost in the ocean breeze. Bring along two containers with sealable lids for collecting trash and recyclables.
  • Keeping it Clean – When your boat is in dry-dock, give it a good scrub on a ‘natural’ surface like grass, gravel or dirt. The natural surface will soak up the dirty water instead of sending it into waterways through the storm drains. Opt for cleaning with plain water or, if needed, a phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaner when your boat is in the water.
  • Oil and Water Don’t Mix – Keep toxic chemicals out of the water. That means preventing oil, gas, and antifreeze from spilling into waterways. Preventative maintenance is key!
  • Respect No Discharge Zones No discharge zones are areas where boaters cannot empty their onboard toilet tanks (aka marine sanitation device) into waterways due to risks to human health, potential damage to aquatic habitats or existing water quality concerns. Locally the Lynnhaven River is a no discharge zone as is the Piankatank River slightly to our north in Middlesex County. The best disposal option is to use a marina pump station to empty waste.
  • Heed the No Wake Signs – That No Wake sign might indicate that you’re in an environmentally sensitive area. Wake can cause erosion along shorelines which reduces the natural barrier that filters polluted stormwater created by the landlubbers and their impervious structures.
  • Choose Clean Marinas – The Virginia Clean Marina Program promotes the voluntary use of pollution reduction strategies by marinas, boatyards and boaters. Find a Clean Marina near you and give them your business whenever you can. Better yet? Talk with your regular marina about becoming a member!

For more ways you can be a waterway-friendly boater, visit Virginia Clean Marina online. And don’t forget there’s also plenty of ways to keep waterways clean from the shore!

Posted in: Don't litter!, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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