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February 2014
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April Showers Bring More Than May Flowers

April showers might bring May flowers, but they also send a whole lot of dirty water into our local waterways. Talk about bad timing! Temperatures are warming, days are longer and most of us are ready to hit the great outdoors to enjoy activities along the rivers, bay or ocean. While we can't stop it from raining, we can prevent stormwater runoff from getting dirty. Take action to protect our waterways this spring with these good-to-do tips:


1.Stop the Rain - You don't have to let rainwater rush down the storm drain. You can snag it before it hits the street with a rain garden or rain barrel.


2. Soil Test Before You Fertilize - Isn't it ironic that one of the rainiest times of the year is also the time of year people start applying fertilizer? Chances are your lawn doesn't even need any fertilizer to be healthy, so test your soil first to keep unnecessary fertilizer from washing down the storm drain.


3. Don't Feed the Wildlife - Ducks and geese are known to take up residence at their favorite watering holes in Hampton Roads. And while we all enjoy interacting with our feathery friends, it's important that we don't feed them. Concentrated waste from large groups of ducks and geese produce a big discharge of bacteria into local waterways - yuck!


4. Reduce Your Turf - Think about it: how often do you actually use your front lawn? For most people the answer is "not that often." Cut down on mower time and water pollution by replacing your lawn with trees and flowers. Mulched flowerbeds and trees soak up way more water than a grassy lawn.


5. Mow Higher - Set your mower height to 3 inches or higher. Taller grass means deeper roots which allow better nutrient uptake and less runoff. It also means you can spend less time mowing the lawn and more time relaxing!

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Rub-a-dub-dub | Car Washing Tips That Protect Waterways 

Did you know that when you wash your car on a paved surface (street, driveway, parking lot)  the water cannot be absorbed? As the water runs off your car, it takes the soap along with it, which in turn picks up dirt, trash, oil, grease, and fertilizer along its path. These pollutants flow into the storm drain system where the water is not treated, but instead empties directly into our local waterways. Stormwater pollution affects drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife. So, here are a few tips to remember the next time you need to give your four wheels a good cleanin':

Wash on an area that absorbs water, such as gravel or grass.
Use biodegradable, phosphate-free, water-based cleaners only.
Minimize water usage by using a hose nozzle with flow restrictions.

Keep soaps and detergents where they belong. Wring sponges and rags into a bucket, not onto the ground.

Empty wash buckets into sinks or toilets instead of your street or yard.
Use sandbags, rolled towels, hoses, or other materials to divert the runoff to an area that absorbs water.

Washing for a Cause? If you're planning a car wash fundraiser this spring, make sure to wash cars on grassy surfaces (see above!). Better yet, get a commercial car wash facility to sponsor your event by donating profits from that day back to your organization. Commercial car washes discharge to the wastewater system saving lots of dirty water from entering our waterways. Finally, consider selling commercial car wash coupons as a fundraiser instead of actually washing cars.

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Celebrate Earth Day in Hampton Roads 

Hampton Roads is so amped up for Earth Day, April 22, that the eco-festivities will carry on for the entire month of April! From litter cleanups to native plant sales to recycling events, there is something for everyone no matter where you live. Check out all the great events on the calendar for a fun-filled month of learning and appreciation for this great place we call home. Want to know where the experts will be celebrating in April? You'll find us spreading the word about being green at the following locations:

  • Mid-Atlantic Home & Garden Show (Virginia Beach - April 11-13)
  • James City County Litter Awareness Event (Williamsburg - April 19)
  • Lafayette RiverFest (Norfolk - April 26)
  • Virginia Living Museum Earth Day Celebration (Newport News - April 26)
  • Plastic Bag Recycling Event (Virginia Beach - April 2)

Environmental Highlights from the
2014 General Assembly Session is all about promoting good-to-do tips, features and fun ways to be a good environmental steward. But we're also about making sure you stay abreast of the larger environmental issues affecting our region. Over the past few months, we've been keeping an eye on what's happening in the 2014 Virginia General Assembly Session so we could share it with you. 


Virginia Stormwater Management Act 

The General Assembly is tweaking numerous elements of the Virginia Stormwater Management Act, which regulates the quantity and quality of stormwater discharges from permitted entities (such as construction sites) in order to protect the health of the Commonweath's waterways. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and localities have been represented throughout this process to help ensure that the final legislation works well for localities charged with administering the program. Minor changes have been made to regulations during the General Assembly; however, localities in Hampton Roads will be adopting programs and begin enforcing the new regulations on July 1, 2014.


Plastic Bags

A couple of bills attempted to impose a tax of five cents ($0.05) beginning on July 1, 2015, on disposable paper bags and disposable plastic bags used by shoppers to carry goods purchased in grocery stores, convenience stores or drug stores. Even with several exemptions and allowances for retailer customer credit programs, the bills died in committee, leaving the plastic tumbleweeds to continue to blow across the Commonwealth. 


Recurrent Flooding

HJ16 and SJR3 established an 11-member joint subcommittee to formulate recommendations for the development of a comprehensive and coordinated planning effort to address recurrent flooding. The joint subcommittee is charged with recommending short- and long-term strategies for minimizing the impact of recurrent flooding and must submit its report to the Governor and the 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly. Flooding is a concern to many residents in the region, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission is coordinating regional efforts on this topic.

For more great tips and info about local events, visit