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January-February 2015
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Prepare Now Before the Weather Outside is Frightful
After a mild December, it's time to seriously prepare for a cold, wet winter. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has predicted that El Niño will drive moisture into the southern states while temperatures will stay near average here in Hampton Roads. All that moisture means that we could see a lot of white stuff falling from the sky this winter. Whether thoughts of snow days make you grin or groan, take action now to prepare for winter emergencies.
Stock up on the right deicer
Don't be fooled by the bad advice that fertilizer is a fantastic deicer! Fertilizer becomes a dangerous pollutant when it enters storm drains and waterways as polluted runoff. Opt for magnesium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate (the safest choices) or calcium chloride. Avoid rock salt which is common but hazardous to your car, lawn and pets.
Eliminate drafts and insulate
Wind blowing through unsealed windows and doors will make your heating system less efficient and increase your chances of freezing pipes. To keep your home warm and dry, seal air leaks around windows and doors and insulate water pipes in unheated parts of your home.
Check for wet insulation
Wet insulation is worse than no insulation, so be sure to check for and repair any leaks and replace any wet insulation you encounter.
Prep your outdoor faucets
Disconnect and drain garden hoses and rain barrels and store them in a garage or shed until spring. If your home offers a separate outdoor water shutoff, use it to shut off water to outdoor spigots and drain out any water remaining in the line.
Check your meter
Let your water utility service provider know if your meter cover is displaced, broken or missing. These problems can lead your meter to freeze and disrupt water service to your home.
Two Ways to Give Your Christmas Tree a Second Life
Reusable Christmas trees are the centerpiece of many a holiday celebration. But naturally grown Christmas trees can have more than one life, too. These evergreens can become so much more than trash destined for the landfill. Which life will you choose for your Christmas tree? 
Give it to your city or county.
Your Christmas tree may already have a secret double life that you know nothing about! Many localities in Hampton Roads pick up unwanted trees at curbside and use them to make mulch or compost. Check here for pick-up schedules and local program details. 
Backyard Habitat
Your Christmas tree could help birds and wildlife survive the winter months by providing a source of food and shelter. Go the extra mile and "decorate" the tree with bird feeders or suet cakes and watch the critters enjoy their new playground. But be sure to remove the tinsel, ornaments and lights as these are hazardous to our furry and feathered friends.
The Halftime Show You Don't See!
We've learned that Coldplay will perform at the Super Bowl 50 halftime. But there's another halftime show right under your feet that you'll (hopefully) never see---the halftime flush! Trends from HRSD during the 2013-2015 Super Bowl games are clear evidence of the covert bathroom break party. Wastewater flows are always lower than normal after kickoff while everyone watches the game, with a spike in flow at halftime and again at the end of the game.

With all that flushing going on at once, it's a good idea for everyone to play by the rules so we can keep wastewater right where it belongs and not backing up into our homes and neighborhoods. Our strategy is simple: flush only the three Ps---pee, poo and paper. Anything else, even those temptingly "flushable" disposable wipes, can clog pipes and cause sewer backups. Keeping wastewater in the pipes under our feet and out of our streets? That's a touchdown---with a two-point conversion!
Resolve to Adopt One of These Resolutions 
New Year's Resolutions: so easy to make and yet so easy to break.

We all want 2016 to be our best year yet, but change is hard. It takes a lot of work and the right motivation to switch up your routine. Leaving behind a cleaner, greener Hampton Roads is just the kind of motivation you need to stick to an eco-friendly resolution this year. Try out one of these simple resolutions, offered by a few of our friends who work behind the scenes to power the program.

"My New Year's resolution is to continue not using single-use plastic bags, bottles and straws."
Lisa Renée Jennings, City of Norfolk
"I'm going to start composting at home. I've already bought a compost bin! I'm also going to recycle cardboard coffee sleeves when I buy coffee on the go."
Sarah Crawford, HRSD
"I resolve to remember my reusable shopping bags, promote rain gardens/planting native trees and plants, do more to help pollinators, and get recycling in Suffolk schools."
Wayne Jones, City of Suffolk
"Lose weight by drinking more tap water."
Erica Roberts, City of Virginia Beach
"Stop using the garbage disposal. Catch the food particles in a sink strainer instead."
Latoya Henry, City of Norfolk
"I resolve to eliminate paper waste and clutter by using e-billing and/or online banking whenever possible."
Lori Woolman, Newport News
"Make my home a Bay Star Home."
Regina Duncan, City of Hampton 
Some cities and counties offer free specialty recycling year-round through drop-off recycling? Learn more about the drop-off recycling options in your city or county.
Keep on being green
as we head into 2016!