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March-April 2015
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Drop Those Drips!

The average household's leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year---that's enough water to wash nearly 10 months' worth of laundry. In fact, 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. March 16-22 is "Fix a Leak Week," an annual reminder to check your household plumbing fixtures for leaks. Here are some quick facts on leaks and easy tips to help you find them and make repairs!

Find 'Em

Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets and leaking shower heads.


A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water use. It's likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if their water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.


One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. (Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

Fix 'Em

Fix leaky faucets by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. 


Fix leaky shower heads by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.


If your toilet is leaking, the culprit is often an old or faulty toilet flapper. It's usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper, which is a relatively easy and affordable do-it-yourself project. If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for the WaterSense label.

No Butts About It - Say No to Cigarette Litter

Seven Hampton Roads localities will soon take part in a national program to reduce the impact of cigarette butt litter in the region. Hampton, James City County, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach will roll out programs later this spring through an initiative of Keep America Beautiful (KAB). The participating cities and counties will target a variety of locations to launch the program including downtown areas, roadways, beaches, parks, tourist spots and at special events. Communities that have implemented the KAB Cigarette Litter Prevention Program have consistently cut cigarette butt litter in half, and Hampton Roads is looking forward to achieving that same result. The program's proven, strategic approach involves a variety of stakeholders including businesses, law enforcement, local governments, community organizations and smokers themselves. Funding for the regional cigarette litter prevention program will be provided in part from a KAB grant and from proceeds raised from last year's inaugural Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament. Stay tuned. Details to follow at! 


If corned beef and cabbage are part of your St. Patty's Day tradition, make sure the garbage disposal is not. You heard us. The garbage disposal is not a catchall for cooking residue, grease and leftover scraps. It might sound crazy, but in spite of its name, the garbage disposal doesn't really dispose of food at all. It merely breaks up foods, sending bits and pieces down the drain to mix with greasy water and stick to the sides of pipes. Food that does make its way to the wastewater treatment plant still has to be removed in order to meet regulations for releasing treated water back into the environment. Our advice? Stop it at the source by using a sink strainer and skip the garbage disposal all together! Don't rely on the luck of the Irish to avoid a visit from the plumber. Here are some other "good-to-do" tips that are sure to keep your kitchen shamrock green:

Tip #1

Never dispose of grease down the drain. 

Tip #2

Instead, pour leftover grease in an old soup can, freeze it, and throw it in the trash.

Tip #3

Wipe dirty dishes and cooking utensils with a paper towel.

The Team Behind the Green: Deidre Harmon
This is the third installment in a series of profiles featuring the behind-the-scenes folks who are part of the program. From Virginia Beach to Southampton County and from as far north as James City and Gloucester counties, they come together as one region to encourage environmental stewardship among all residents here in Hampton Roads. This month, we'd like to introduce you to Team Member, Deidre Harmon:

1. Tell us about your job.

I am a Public Information Specialist II with the City of Norfolk's Department of Utilities, the second-largest waterworks in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a regional water purveyor, Norfolk provides top quality drinking water to 850,000 customers in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, parts of Chesapeake and to the U.S. Navy. In addition to water, the Department of Utilities also provides wastewater collection service to approximately 240,000 residents in Norfolk. Our mission is to enhance quality of life by providing excellent water and wastewater services at the best possible value for our customers. I help promote Utilities' messages through public outreach by attending events, classroom presentations and creating marketing materials.


2. Why is it important for the City of Norfolk to be part of the program?

It's important because we are able to collaborate with other Hampton Roads cities to come up with messages and programming to help our communities. We are able to attend events and spread the message about water awareness, keeping fats, oils and grease out of pipes, scooping the poop and much more! Also, the promotional materials, brochures and rack cards really come in handy when spreading our messages.


3. What is your favorite "green" tip to share?

Drink more tap water! People can easily refill their reusable water bottles on-the-go. It's less expensive than purchasing bottled water and better for the environment.

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