This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment. Got a question? Email us at [email protected]!
Whether you are planning to watch the big game tomorrow or not (sorry Redskins fans), there’s one bowl we should all keep our eyes on: the toilet bowl.
The real evidence of Arlingtonians’ Super Bowl celebrating will be in the sewer pipes. The “Super Bowl flush” is the moment that thousands of toilets in Arlington all flush at the same time – halftime.
If all 184 million viewers flushed with a water efficient WaterSense toilet instead of an older model, over 400 million gallons of water could be saved! Instead of spending money on your water bill, you could spend it on your favorite beverage.
Using water = using energy. You may not think about it, but it takes a lot of energy to purify your water and then pump it to your home. After you flush, it also takes a significant amount of energy to get your waste to Arlington’s Water Pollution Control Plant, where even more energy is required to treat the wastewater.
Why does water use matter to you? Arlington’s water and sewer rates have increased significantly over the past 15 years. These costs mostly increased due to upgrades at the Water Pollution Control Plant to ensure that Arlington’s wastewater is cleaned to meet increasingly stringent standards.
Since energy and water are inextricably linked, using WaterSense toilets (faucets and showerheads, too) saves you money on your water bill, about $110 a year per toilet. This Super Bowl, when you flush, think about tackling that toilet, showerhead, or faucet upgrade by installing high-performance WaterSense fixtures. You’ll score some savings, even if your favorite team doesn’t win!
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Ballston Company Raises $100 Million — Ballston-based Snagajob has announced a $100 million funding round. The company is planning to hire at least 150 new employees for its Arlington and Richmond offices and make some significant acquisitions. [Tech.co]
Democratic Challenger Launches Campaign — Small business owner and Planning Commission member Erik Gutshall formally launched his campaign to unseat Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Gutshall’s primary pitch to Democrats is “responsive, progressive leadership that you can trust.” Garvey upset many Democratic voters by endorsing independent Board member John Vihstadt and campaigning (successfully) to kill the Columbia Pike streetcar project. [InsideNova]
Bikeshare By the Numbers — Critics of Capital Bikeshare are pointing to some system stats to suggest that it’s inefficient and serves a narrow segment of the population, though the reality is a bit more gray. Capital Bikeshare lost 30 cents on the dollar — rider revenue covers 70 percent of operating costs. But that’s not too shabby compared to other transit systems. In terms of operating costs per passenger-mile, Bikeshare is between Metrorail and Metrobus. Critics also point out that 84 percent of Bikeshare members are white while the District’s population is only 44 percent white (and Arlington’s population is 64 percent white). [Daily Signal]
DESIGNArlington Winners Revealed — The 11 winners of the annual DESIGNArlington awards for architectural and landscape projects have been announced. Among the projects receiving a “Merit Award” is the somewhat controversial sewage plant fence art project entitled “Ripple.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
An assortment of pipes, wrenches, wheels and pink balls have been attached to the fence separating the Four Mile Run trail from the county’s sewage plant.
These items are part of an art installation by Dutch artist Tejo Remy and his design partner Rene Veenhuizen, who are known for their use of everyday objects to create works of art. The installation, which runs along the fence of the Water Pollution Control Plant on the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road, was completed in the middle of September, said Jim Byers, a spokesman for Arlington Cultural Affairs.
The display runs the length of the sewage plant, transitioning from a sea of pink balls and flat, blue objects to orange wheels and then a series of neon green wrenches and baby blue pipes. The piece starts with a lone pink ball.
“Remy and Veenhuizen’s design ethos stems from a strong industrial design background and building awareness about our connection to the environment,” Arlington Public Arts said in a press release. “Their innovative concept consists of more than 800 linear feet of brightly colored ‘widgets’ that reference the importance of microorganisms in the plant’s treatment processes and shaped fence panels overlaid on the existing fence to create a moiré effect reflecting the movement of water.”
The artwork is part of series of restorations and enhancements being made to the Four Mile Run area, which include work on bike trails and a new pedestrian-cyclist bridge. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held once all projects are complete, Byers said.
The County Board approved the project in 2012, and $350,000 was allotted for the fence display, which included a $30,000 contingency fund. The project has stayed within that budget, Byers said
“Funding for this Contract is included in the approved $568 million budget for the Master Plan 2001 upgrade and expansion project at the Department of Environmental Services Water Pollution Control Plant,” he said. “The total cost of the fence enhancement project is 0.061 percent of the total of the upgrade and expansion project at the Department of Environmental Services Water Pollution Control Plant.”
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Tejo Remy, an artist for the Netherlands whose work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, is designing a fence for the plant that filters Arlington’s sewage.
The fence surrounds the Water Pollution Control Plant, on the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road, and it will be designed in Remy and design partner Rene Veenhuizen’s style of reusing common objects to create engaging works of art.
“The design-duo’s ethos stems from a strong industrial design background, reusing existing resources rather than consuming new materials, and building awareness about our connection to the environment,” Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said. “Remy and Veenhuizen have developed and will implement a compelling, innovative design concept which will serve as a unifying element within the Four Mile Run area, while creating distinct enhancements for the fence at the Water Pollution Control Plant.”
The project is expected in 2015, Byers said. It was approved by the Arlington County Board in April 2012.
Some of Remy’s noted work includes a “chest of drawers” displayed at MoMA and a chair made of rags. He spoke briefly about the fence project this week at an exhibition on Dutch design at the Netherlands embassy in D.C.
Photo (top) via Google Maps, (bottom) courtesy Alan Henney
Senior Citizens Tour Sewage Plant — A group of three dozen senior citizens toured Arlington’s recently-renovated Water Pollution Control Plant on Friday. The sold-out tour educated the seniors about the sewage treatment process and about the people who work at the plant, whose “informal motto” is “We’re No. 1 with your No. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Technology and the Homeless — Contrary to a common image of the homeless, most homeless individuals in Arlington have a cell phone and some even have laptops. Such technology is described as a “lifeline” to family, job opportunities and education. [Patch]
Map of the ‘Arlington Loop’ — Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published an easy-to-use map of the “Arlington Loop” — the 50 miles of off-street bike trails in the county. The map includes approximate ride times for bicyclists. [Bike Arlington, Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy Chris Armstrong
Sarah Maiellano says she is going to deliver the letters to the Arlington County Board at their Saturday meeting. The letters urge the Board to “take any and all actions necessary to hasten the reopening of the Harris Teeter grocery store located in the Eclipse building.”
(The text of the letter can be found below, after the jump.)
The Harris Teeter in question, at 3600 S. Glebe Road near Potomac Yard, remains closed with no reopening date in sight. The grocery store was flooded with raw sewage on May 11, 2012, due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.
It has since been thoroughly cleaned, but the company says it’s “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again.”
“Once those solutions are implemented, we are ready to start work on the interior of the store, and at that point, Harris Teeter will make various public announcements to share the good news with everyone,” company spokeswoman Danna Jones told ARLnow.com earlier this year.
At its January meeting the County Board adjourned to closed session to discuss, as County Board Chair Walter Tejada put it, “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others, arising from an incident on May 11, 2012.” A county spokeswoman declined to say what claims were being made.
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
A sewage backup that flooded an Arlington Harris Teeter store last May is still causing a stink in the backrooms of county government.
The Harris Teeter at 3600 S. Glebe Road, near Potomac Yard, remains closed with no reopening date in sight. The grocery store was flooded with raw sewage on May 11, 2012, due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.
Earlier this month, Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com that “no civil lawsuits have been filed” against the county as a result of the sewage incident. But at its Tuesday meeting the County Board adjourned to closed session to discuss, as County Board Chair Walter Tejada put it, “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others, arising from an incident on May 11, 2012.”
It’s unclear what “claims” are being made. Asked about the behind-closed-doors session, Curtius declined further comment.
Harris Teeter says they’re “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again,” but a company rep declined to give additional specifics.
The closed session was not the only hush-hush County Board action to take place on Tuesday. The Washington Post reports that the Board unanimously approved 5 to 10 percent raises for three top county officials at the end of the public meeting. The raises come as the county faces a $25 to 50 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.
During the storm, a large limb was ripped off the George Washington Tree, a Southern Red Oak at the corner of S. Fern and 31st Streets, on the grounds of the Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant. The tree, which legend holds might have once been surveyed by George Washington, is designated by the Arlington County Board as a “Heritage Tree.”
Whereas Arlington’s historic Post Oak was totally removed earlier this week due to storm damage, the George Washington Tree is expected to survive — but it’s being severely cut back. Once a stately 130 feet tall, the tree has now been trimmed down to 30 feet.
A county worker was seen working on the tree today, using a chainsaw to break the large branches already cut from the tree into smaller pieces.
The county issued a press release below regarding the tree last night (published after the jump).
Managers at the county’s Water Pollution Control Plant are apologizing for a stinky situation on Sunday.
Excessive odors were released from the sewage plant on S. Glebe Road due to an overripe load of “biosolids.” A letter to residents from the Water Pollution Control Bureau explains what went wrong:
On May 6, 2012, odors were released by the Water Pollution Control Plant. We apologize for this inconvenience and have investigated the issue. Due to coordination issues with truck ordering, timely truck delivery, and work in the dewatering building loading bays, a load of biosolids remained in a bin for several days. This overloaded the odor control system and resulted in odors being released.
Plant management has updated the procedures concerning truck ordering and coordination, loading times and procedures, and equipment monitoring to minimize the probability of a recurrence.
Significant progress has been made in the past two years with respect to addressing odor control at the plant. Staff continue to work to prevent/minimize odor releases and plant impact on local quality of life while maintaining viable plant operations.
Photo via Arlington County Department of Environmental Service.
Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend — Daylight Saving Time will begin at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Clocks should be moved ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night. The start of Daylight Saving Time is also commonly cited as a good time to replace the batteries in smoke detectors.
Artistic Fence Coming to Water Treatment Plant — The County Board is expected to approve a $350,000 contract for an artist to build a 1,600 foot fence around the water treatment plant on S. Glebe Road. The fence, a functional work of art, “redefines the traditional purpose of a fence,” according to county staff. [Sun Gazette]
Hummus Happy Hour at Lebanese Taverna — Local restaurant chain Lebanese Taverna just launched a $5 “bottomless hommos” happy hour. The deal, which runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, is available at the company’s Pentagon Row and Westover restaurants, in addition to several other locations. [Facebook]
Oyster Happy Hour at Restaurant 3 — Clarendon’s Restaurant 3 (2950 Clarendon Blvd) has introduced a “local oyster happy hour” on Sundays. The eatery is offering discounted Maryland and Virginia oysters, $9 fried oyster sliders, $7 oyster shooters and $3 beer specials from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. every Sunday. [Rrestaurant 3]
The Arlington County Fire Department will assist the County with conducting a safety drill at the facility from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The activity will center around the Methanol Facility at the southwest end of the WPCP, near S. Glebe Rd. A number of fire department vehicles will be on scene and there will be audible alarms sounding.
The WPCP has spent several years going through a massive upgrade and renovation period. Most of the renovations are expected to be finished this summer.
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.
Power Returns for Most — Only 10 Dominion customers in North Arlington are still without power after Sunday’s powerful storm. Crews worked overnight to restore power to hard-hit neighborhoods. As of 11:00 last night, there were nearly 220 homes without power, compared to 1360 customers early yesterday morning.
$800,000 to Gussy Up Sewage Plant — Arlington’s Water Pollution Control Plant is set to receive $700,000 to $800,000 worth of landscaping and other visual improvements, if a contract is approved by the County Board this weekend. [Sun Gazette]
Reading Aloud to Dogs at Central Library — “Paws to Read” is a program that allows children to read books aloud to dogs in Arlington Central Library. Dogs, unlike humans, are non-judgmental when it comes to reading ability, inspiring confidence among the young readers, according to the volunteers who help run the program for the nonprofit group People Love Animals. [Examiner.com]
Mysterious Mansion’s Celebrity-Filled Past — Charlie Clark examines the history of “The Cedars,” a “mysterious mansion” in Arlington’ Woodmont neighborhood. The historic property is owned by the Fellowship Foundation, which runs the nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Mennyj
A top manager in charge of the project to upgrade Arlington’s Water Pollution Control Plant embezzled nearly $5 million from the project’s contractor, according to a lawsuit filed in St. Louis two weeks ago.
Alberici Contractors Inc. says it did not over-charge Arlington County for its work on the $568 million project as a result of the embezzlement. Instead, the company says that the embezzlement cut into its own profits on the project.
The St. Louis Business Journal reported today that Jeff Oliver, the company’s project director for the sewage plant upgrade and expansion, is being sued for $4.8 million. Alberici says Oliver conspired with two subcontractors to over-bill the company.
Alberici’s internal investigation reportedly found that no county employees were involved. In a statement, Arlington County said that it is launching an investigation to verify that the embezzlement did not cost taxpayer dollars and did not involve any county employees.
“We have a special fiduciary responsibility for public funds,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in the statement. “We will do everything we can to make sure that the project and Arlington taxpayers were not hurt by these perpetrators.”
The project is nearly complete and Oliver “is no longer associated with the project,” the county said.
In a note to neighbors today, managers say that they’re “working diligently to reduce the excessive odors that were intermittently emitted from the Plant over the past few weeks.”
However, the work that must be done to solve the problem over the next month — cleaning ducts, performing maintenance activities, modifying equipment for rapid troubleshooting — will “likely cause a temporary increase in odor.”
“The Water Pollution Control Plant strives to provide the best level of customer service and we apologize for any inconvenience,” plant representatives wrote. “In the future we will attempt to perform the duct cleaning activities during the winter months to minimize the impact on the local residents.”
Managers also say they will be “refreshing staff on odor control procedures.”