Citizen Academy City Tour

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Agenda for the day:

We learned a lot of information on our tour. I’m just adding some quick facts that I thought were really interesting.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Regional Sewer Authority

They just got an expansion and can now handle about 60 million gallons of water in a day. But they average about 22 million. Weather can be a big contributor to how much water the see in a day. It is important that they be able to filter a lot more than average since this area is growing in population.  Another reason they got the expansion was to satisfy the need to help filter the water even further to help with the health of the Chesapeake Bay. In the photos below you will see a rush of water flowing. That is the end of the process! It takes about 16 hours for the water that comes into the planet to be cleaned. That water is going down steps into the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The movement on the steps provide more oxygen in the water which helps the life in the water.

City of Harrisonburg Water Treatment Plant

This plant is in charge of getting you your tap water! The City of Harrisonburg’s water comes from two different sources, one in Bridgewater and one towards West Virginia.  Harrisonburg uses a lot of water! We use about 8.5 million gallons of water a day. The plant has the capacity to treat 10 million gallons a day. Did you know there’s more than just the two water towers (Vine St) in the City? There’s a bunch. The big new one on Vine St can hold up to 9 million gallons. So when you drive by it, just think that we use almost that much of water per day. And the highest volume is in the morning.

This place was really neat. These guys have their act together and are passionate about delivering the best water to the City’s residents. The levels of everything are checked multiple times a day. I figured, once a day was good, but no. We’re talking (depending on what they are testing) once an hour, or once every two hours. And the place is spotless. They clean every shift…how many of you can say that? The pictures below of from the outside tanks where the sediments settle out. The view with the two mostly underground tanks are toward the east, the other is toward the west. It’s best for them to be high up because a lot of the water systems (including this plant and the sewer plant) utilize gravity to deliver water.

Harrisonburg Recycling Department

I could talk forever about why recycling is the right thing to do. But the bottom line, is that it helps the planet and that helps us. The city does not make profits on recycling. I was told a couple times that refuse is not profitable (for the city). BUT, they do get some money from the aluminum cans that we recycle which saves us money. And just so you know, taking cans and other profitable materials out of a City recycling bin in stealing. From curb-side bins, they take aluminum, tin cans, glass, plastics 1 & 2, newspaper and magazines. I learned that the reason the newspaper and magazines need to be put out separately is because a different truck picks it up.

Recycling saves landfill space and reuses materials to make new and different things. Plastic bottles are used to make carpet! To find out where our recycling goes and what it goes into making, check this out. Also, every couple months they have a day where you can bring down hazardous waste to be recycled or disposed of properly, look here for dates and details.

Recycling tips:

  • Do not put out pizza boxes that have grease stains
  • Do not put out wet paper
  • Do take off the lids to bottles
  • You can leave the labels on the bottles

Resource Recovery Facility

Simply put, this is where they burn trash! We toured the facility, but I still can’t really tell you how they get the energy they do. My best understanding, is that the trash is burned and the heat boils the water to make steam that gives power. Beyond that, I don’t know. What I do know is that it looks like a huge “claw” game. There are two incinerators so the claw goes down to get trash and can go to either side for it to burn. The coolest thing to me? The trash burns down to about 17% of original volume. That saves a lot of space in the landfill! And, don’t forget that this facility can heat the entire campus of JMU and cool the east side of the campus.

The control room is super cool looking. You have one person “playing” the claw game and another watching 7 different monitors to make sure the trash is moving through smoothly, the temperature is high enough and everything else they have to watch out for. Oh, and it’s owned by the City. I thought it was a joint venture with the City and JMU, but it is not. They were there before JMU surrounded them. And yes, they have their own parking for City employees.


One thought on “Citizen Academy City Tour

  1. Pingback: Why participate in Citizen Academy? | Life's Craziness

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