Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, who last year launched a “personal crusade” against bottled water, will debate a representative of the bottled water industry this weekend.
Fisette and Chris Hogan, Vice President of Communications for the Alexandria-based International Bottled Water Association, will speak at the Arlington Committee of 100′s monthly dinner meeting.
The debate, which is being held at Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road) will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan 8. An RSVP is required by Jan. 5.
From the event’s Facebook page:
In 2009, the Arlington County Board passed a resolution banning the use of taxpayer funds to purchase single use, bottled water – with a very few exceptions. That resolution spoke to the environmental cost of producing, transporting and disposing of these bottles. While that may have reduced their use at county sponsored functions, many of us still use single use bottled water. Incoming Board Chairman Jay Fisette has begun a crusade to reduce the use of single use plastic water bottles. At our January meeting we will address the questions related to this initiative. What are the advantages of single use bottled water? What are the effects on the environment of the way we dispose of the empty bottles? Are there alternatives that provide the same or similar advantages?
Arlington County water department employees and representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council are also expected to attend.
Gourmet Deli Coming to Ballston — Taylor Gourmet, a Philadelphia-inspired hoagie shop, will be opening its first Arlington location. The self-proclaimed “gourmet deli” will be the first business to move in at the Liberty Center South development (4000 Wilson Blvd). Taylor Gourmet has eight other locations in the metro area. [Washington Business Journal]
Fisette Takes Water Bottle Crusade to Civic Association — County Board member Jay Fisette continued his personal crusade to discourage water bottle use during a presentation at the Arlington County Civic Federation meeting. His new goal is to get 10,000 people, or about five percent of the county’s population, to join him in backing the cause. So far, only about 250 people have signed the online pledge to use tap water instead of bottled water. [Sun Gazette]
Arlingtonian Wins Caption Contest — An Arlington resident won this week’s popular The New Yorker Cartoon Caption contest. The magazine staff narrows down the contest entries and readers vote for their favorite. David Karlsruher won the honor of having his witty line seen by readers around the world. [The New Yorker]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
It’s that time of year when Sherlock Shad (pictured left) begins appearing more frequently in Arlington neighborhoods. But the county needs help attaching the storm drain markers bearing his likeness.
Arlington marks many of its more than 10,000 storm drains as a reminder that anything going into a drain heads directly to local streams that flow into the Potomac River. The river is the source of tap water for Arlington and much of the D.C. metro area.
Nothing should be dumped into storm drains, per Arlington County Code Section 26-5, which reads: “…it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge directly or indirectly into the storm sewer system or state waters, any substance likely, in the opinion of the County Manager, to have an adverse effect on the storm sewer system or state waters.”
Arlington partners with the neighboring jurisdictions of Fairfax County and Alexandria to all order the same style of markers. Ordering the markers in bulk helps each jurisdiction keep costs down. The costs vary each year based on how many markers need to be attached.
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Stormwater Outreach Specialist Jen McDonnell said in addition to affixing the markers to currently unmarked drains, volunteers replace some markers that are damaged or have come loose from the pavement.
“Whether it’s snow removal or new construction, these markers do come off with time,” said McDonnell. “Not only are they [volunteers] affixing the markers, but they can tell me which streets need new markers or what is unmarked.”
The markers list different streams depending on which neighborhood they are placed in. Some of the waterways include Lubber Run, Four Mile Run, and Gulf Branch.
The glue used to attach the markers to the pavement does not work in cold, wet conditions. Therefore, the markers only can be applied on dry days during the late spring, summer and fall.
Nearly anyone can volunteer to help out, including adults, scout groups or middle school and high school students wishing to fulfill service hours. Volunteers receive all the materials necessary to attach the markers. Once finished with the task, volunteers report which drains they have marked so the locations can be entered into an electronic database.
“This project allows the citizens to be involved and clues them in to all the storm drains. It makes them think about if there are things in the street, where it all goes,” McDonnell said. “It’s a great, easy program that people can get out and do whenever they have time for it.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer to affix the markers in their neighborhood should contact Jen McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-228-3042. Residents can also contact her to report a storm drain in need of a new marker.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) If you think this year’s annual spring water system flush is giving Arlington’s water a stronger than usual taste or smell, you’re right — and officials say the weather is actually playing a factor.
Just like every year since 2000, there are about six weeks in the spring when Arlington’s water is purified with chlorine instead of chloramine. In 2011, the chlorine level was downgraded from 3.7 parts per million to 3.0 parts per million because of a number of resident and staff concerns.
This year, however, some people have mentioned what they believe to be a stronger taste or smell to the water. Although the number of formal complaints so far hasn’t exceeded other years, ARLnow.com readers started a forum thread on the topic. One reader posted: “It’s overpowering and sickening. We’ve been clearing out the shelves of those 3-gallon jugs of water at Giant.”
Although the amount of chlorine has not changed, the cold weather appears to accentuate the taste and smell of chlorine.
“It’s a theory. Basically the warmer temperatures will generally use up a little more of the chlorine as it goes through the system,” said Dave Hundelt with Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. “We think, looking back, the reason we had so many complaints in 2011 was [the flush] started on February 1, when the temperatures were colder, and the chlorine was more noticeable. This year, we started a week earlier, during the third week instead of the last week of March. That combined with the temperatures in the region. They appear to be colder in the past few weeks than it was in March of 2012.”
Hundelt says as temperatures increase, the water warms up and the chlorine should be less noticeable. The temperature shift necessary to create a perceptible change in smell and taste is relatively small. Analysts are finding a stronger smell and taste when water temperatures are at or below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Farenheit). Comparatively, water temperatures were around 7-10 degrees Celsius (about 44-50 degrees Farenheit) in Feburary 2011 when complaints poured in, but were at a balmy 16 degrees Celcius (about 60 degree Farenheit) last April.
Arlington’s water is purchased wholesale from the Washington Aqueduct, so much of the region experiences the same water conditions.
In addition to the chlorine change, each of the the county’s 3,500 fire hydrants will be opened for a short period to make sure the entire water system gets adequately flushed. That is too large a job to finish when the chloramine conversion ends on April 29, so residents may continue to see hydrants flushed into the month of May.
Anyone with major concerns about the water system, such as water main breaks, should call 703-228-6555 to report issues. More information about the switch from chloramine to chlorine can be found on the county’s website.
Water Change Underway — The annual, temporary switch from chloramine to chlorine as the tap water disinfectant is beginning, as part of a flush of the water system. During this time, Arlington residents may notice a change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. The water system’s “spring cleaning” is scheduled to run through April 29. [Arlington County]
Ballston Garage to Get $3.5 Million in Repairs — The Arlington County Board on Saturday awarded a contract of up to $3.5 million for structural repairs to the eighth level of the Ballston Public Parking Garage. The eighth level of the garage was added in 2006, but the concrete was found to be deficient for long-term use — prompting claims that resulted in the county settling with the original contractor for an undisclosed sum. Kettler Capitals Iceplex, which is located on the top level of the garage, will remain open during the construction, which is expected to take 5-6 months. [Sun Gazette]
Spring Yard Waste Collection Begins – Updated at 12:20 p.m. — Arlington’s annual spring yard waste collection began Monday. During the collection, which runs through April 26, residents can get paper bags full of yard waste picked up the next business day after their regular trash collection day. [Arlington County]
Pentagon Row Ice Rink Closes — Yesterday (Monday) was the last day of the season for ice skating at Pentagon Row. The Pentagon Row ice rink is now being dismantled. Skating is expected to resume in November. [Pentagon Row]
Update at 4:40 p.m. — Chlorinated water leaking from a water main near Shirlington has seeped into Four Mile Run and killed “dozens” of fish, an Arlington County official told ARLnow.com this afternoon.
We first reported the leak near 2400 S. Walter Reed Drive this morning, after Claremont and Fairlington residents reported widespread low water pressure in the area. Now we’re told that the leak — in a 12-inch pipe — has resulted in a significant fish kill.
From Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel:
Residents may notice dead fish in portions of Four Mile Run downstream of the break due to the chlorinated water being released. This water is not harmful to humans or pets, but unfortunately resulted in a fish kill. Residents should follow the County’s normal precautions for safe use of urban streams.
McDaniel said repairs on the water main are expected to continue into tomorrow. Residents may continue to experience low water pressure but “no one is expected to be without water,” she said.
Updated at 2:55 p.m. — This article has been updated here.
Low water pressure has been reported in the Claremont and Fairlington areas.
The water pressure issue is the result of a leak in a 12-inch pipe located near 2400 S. Walter Reed Drive, according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.
“Crews are now trying to isolate the leak for repair,” Whalen McDaniel told ARLnow.com. “Some areas may be out of water during the period of repair.”
Via Twitter, residents told us the low water pressure started last night (Tuesday). No word yet on when service may be restored.
You may not have even realized it, but your water meter will get a makeover soon, if it hasn’t already. The county is about half finished with its efforts to install new automated meter reading (AMR) systems on residential buildings.
The new meters allow employees to easily gather water use information without physically having to access meter boxes. They are equipped with a radio transmitter than sends each meter reading to an employee who slowly drives through the neighborhoods.
“The meters tend to lose accuracy as they age, so one of the benefits is the increased accuracy of the reading,” said county engineer Mary Strawn.
AMR will reduce errors now that employees will not have to manually enter meter numbers. It’s also viewed as a safety measure, considering workers won’t have to scramble in some places with hard to reach meters.
Residents can expect to see fewer “estimated reads” on their bills, due to the efficiency of the new meters. Previously, if county workers were unable to find a meter due to factors like snow accumulation, they would estimate a customer’s monthly water use.
The county began installing AMR equipment on commercial and multi-family residences in 2007. Now, the project has moved on to the 30,000 single family residences. Workers are about halfway through that task, and hope to finish by early 2013.
Notifications are being sent out to residents before work on their meters begins. Installation only takes about five minutes, so most people probably won’t even notice that work has been done.
Sometimes, after the meter has been upgraded, residents may temporarily notice a burst of air or rust colored water. This is not harmful, and briefly running the cold water should clear this up.
On Monday the taste of your tap water may be changing as the Washington Aqueduct conducts its annual “spring cleaning.”
Residents may notice a distinct “chlorine” taste and smell in the water for the next seven weeks. Local water authorities issued the following press release about the change:
From March 26 through May 7, 2012, the disinfectant in drinking water will temporarily switch from chloramine to chlorine.
The annual switch in water disinfection is part of a routine program to clean and maintain water distribution systems in the District of Columbia, Arlington County and Falls Church. During the temporary switch to chlorine, local water authorities will also conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. This program is standard practice for many U.S. water systems that use chloramine during the majority of the year.
The Washington Aqueduct is the organization responsible for treating drinking water — including water disinfection — for the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and Falls Church, Virginia. Local water authorities are responsible for monitoring drinking water to ensure chlorine levels continue to meet safe target levels.
Individuals and business owners who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water, such as dialysis centers, medical facilities and aquatic pet owners, should continue to take the same precautions during the temporary switch to chlorine. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water are effective in removing chlorine. Individuals with special health concerns should consult with a health care provider on the use of tap water.
During this time, individuals may notice a change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. Local water authorities recommend running the cold water tap for approximately two minutes and refrigerating cold tap water for a few hours to reduce taste and odor. Water filters are also effective in reducing chlorine taste and odor.
The massive upgrade of Arlington’s Water Pollution Control Plant, which is almost finished, is apparently already causing environmental benefits in the Chesapeake Bay. Plus, it has created a new source of revenue for the County.
Tests show the $568 million expansion and modernization of the WPCP has reduced the amount of harmful nitrogen it deposits into the Chesapeake Bay. That means the County will receive tradable credits that can be sold through the state’s Nutrient Credit Exchange Program. Earlier this week, the County Board voted to participate in the program, and also approved Arlington’s membership in the Virginia Nutrient Credit Exchange Association.
“The County has made a huge investment in expanding and upgrading the Water Pollution Control Plant, and it is great to see that – even before the upgrade is completed – the effort is producing significant benefits for the Bay and creating a new source of revenue for Arlington,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “This expansion is proving to be a worthwhile investment for our County and the region.”
The County could receive between $22,000 and $410,000 each year for its utility fund by participating in the exchange. Because it’s a new member, Arlington would have to wait the required three to five years before receiving money for its credits. There is an annual membership fee of $3,125 for the program.
The WPCP treats 30 million gallons of wastewater each day. Most of its renovations are slated to be finished this summer. A refurbishment of the fence around the facility will start this spring and end in the fall.
Did you know that Arlington’s drinking water actually comes from the District of Columbia? And that when the county’s first drinking water system was completed residents held a big parade with elaborate floats in Clarendon?
Those are two of the interesting historical facts recently brought to light in an article on drinking water in the county’s Ballston Pond Blog. That article, written by county employee Jen McDonnell, is reprinted here with permission.
Arlington has three, separate pipe systems running underground that handle our three types of water – drinking (potable), wastewater, and stormwater. But there was a time in Arlington (not that long ago) when these pipe systems were not in place. In 1900, wells were the drinking water source for Arlingtonians, and outhouses and septic tanks “managed” the wastewater.
In 1926, the Arlington Board of Supervisors funded a study to devise a plan to bring a drinking water system to Arlington. The study findings recommended that Arlington connect to the Army Corp of Engineers-operated drinking water filtration plant that pulled water from the Potomac River for the District of Columbia’s residents. In 1926, Congress passed two acts that made this proposed plan possible. The first act authorized the sale of water from the federal supply to Arlington and the second act approved the connection of Arlington County to the federal supply. Virginia’s General Assembly then approved bonds to fund this major project. A water main was constructed from the Dalecarlia Plant in Washington D.C., across Chain Bridge, and then along Glebe Road. Infrastructure including pumps and pumping stations were installed and initially 340 homes were connected. Construction cost $636,110.
When the new drinking water system became operational, a big parade with elaborate floats was held in Clarendon. Arlingtonians wore buttons saying, “YES We Have Water.” The new, easy access to water encouraged change and growth in Arlington. In the post-WWI era, housing became denser around the available water connections. Easy water access encouraged the use of larger quantities of water, and increased the quantities of wastewater produced. While the drinking water system has been significantly expanded since then, Arlington still gets its drinking water from the Potomac River and the Dalecarlia Plant today.
An equally interesting history of the county’s wastewater system has also been posted on the Ballston Pond Blog.
A mysterious green dye has been spotted in the water along Four Mile Run Dr. near S. George Mason Dr.
Arlington County Fire Department’s Hazmat team is on the scene. They say the dye is a non-hazardous drainage detection substance. Bags of this type of dye are sometimes released into a building’s drainage system to make sure there are no leaks or breaks. A nearby building performed this type of test today, and it drains into the creek at Four Mile Run.
The dye does appear to be moving downstream, so other areas may soon see a green hue in the water.
Arlington to Receive 9/11 Pentagon Stone -- On Thursday, Arlington will be presented with a piece of Pentagon limestone that was damaged on Sept. 11, 2001. The 800-pound stone, brought here from Indiana in the early 1940s while the Pentagon was being built, was part of the building’s west facade when it was struck by American Airlines Flight 77. The military is presenting stones to the Arlington County Fire Department, the New York City Fire Department and the FBI Washington Field Office in advance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. [Arlington County]
USS Arlington to be Christened — The christening of the new USS Arlington is scheduled for Saturday morning in Pascagoula, Miss. The Arlington an amphibious transport dock ship intended for use in modern expeditionary combat situations. It is the sister ship to the USS New York and the USS Somerset. County Manager Barbara Donnellan, Fire Chief James Schwartz and other Arlington officials are expected to attend the ceremony. [Sun Gazette]
Krupicka Picks Up More Alexandria Endorsements — Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka (D) has picked up more endorsements in his run for the 30th District state Senate race. Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel and Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne both announced their endorsements yesterday. Previously, Krupicka picked up up the endorsements of Alexandria’s mayor and its former city manager. Meanwhile, Del. Adam Ebbin (D) officially launched his campaign for the 30th District seat on Sunday at the Alexandria Black History Museum.
Annual Water Change Underway — Don’t be surprised if your tap water tastes a bit funny. The local water authority is making its seasonal switch of disinfectants from chloramine to chlorine. [Washington Post]
The cleanup is still on-going at Arlington’s courthouse building, which was damaged by a burst hot water pipe early Friday morning.
The pipe burst in a wall of a courtroom on the the third floor of the building. Water leaked down to the second and first floors, as well as the parking garage. Crews worked throughout the weekend to dry out damaged carpets, chairs and other furniture.
Several boxes of documents at the police department’s central records department were damaged, but a county spokesperson said that most of those documents had already been digitized and were waiting to be shredded. Another box of documents, which was intended to be preserved, suffered light water damaged but has since been dried out by a contractor.
“We lost nothing of any significance,” said county spokeswoman Mary Curtius. “The courtroom will reopen tomorrow and most of the offices are functioning already today.”
Damage is expected to exceed the county’s $50,000 insurance deductible, Curtius said.
Just as we were receiving notification of a road closure between Fern Street and Grant Street on South 23rd Street near Crystal City, a tipster sent us the photo above with this description:
Good morning — There’s some sort of water problem on 23rd St South near Crystal City, between Fern and Grant, closer to Fern. Water is out on at least that block (I live there and a neighbor has told me hers is out as well). It looks like this utility truck has fallen through the street surface, a sinkhole or something. That could be the cause — either the water main was broken, or it was shut off to make repairs. Picture attached, though it’s not the best angle.
As we reported earlier today, this has been a busy month for water main breaks in Arlington.
Update at 1:15 p.m. — A few Washington Gas employees arrived on scene around 12:30 p.m. to check for a possible gas line rupture. Based on the public works employee lighting up a cigarette about 15 minutes later, it would appear that they gave the all-clear.
As the photos show, this is a relatively minor situation. The public works truck is now parked safely away from the hole, and there’s no water flowing from the apparent water main break. No word yet on when the road may reopen.