Our Water

Clean water is essential for the future of RVA. Whether it’s watching what goes down our drains or monitoring what flows in to the James River, improving Richmond’s waterways improves the quality of life for everyone.
From drinking water to wastewater and stormwater, take a moment to learn more about water’s importance to our everyday lives – and how we share that important message with those around us.



At the Department of Public Utilities, we see the benefits of clean water management every day: meaning better water, a better environment and better health for all of Richmond. Here are just some of the ways our work helps to make sure that every drop counts:

Flood Prevention

Richmond’s flood protection system – maintained by the DPU and sometimes known as the floodwall – is 17,327 feet long (that’s 3.28 miles) and protects 750 acres of land. By making sure that stormwater drains aren’t clogged with leaves and other debris, we prevent flooding on personal property and reduce pollution, along with the odors it causes and pests it attracts.

Drain Upkeep and Maintenance

We inspect and clear Richmond’s storm drains to keep stormwater runoff pollution from entering the James River, reduce mosquitos and keep our neighborhoods looking clean. With over 30,000 storm drains throughout Richmond, our work is never done!

Pollution Prevention

Our services help remove potential pollutants that travel in rain and stormwater. Through inspection and monitoring, we help to reduce the amount of hazardous materials that get poured down the drain or flushed out of the wastewater, both in our homes and in industrial and manufacturing facilities. Effective pollution prevention helps keep water safe for both drinking and swimming, while reducing fish kills caused by algae blooms.

Water Quality

The DPU is committed to protecting and improving water quality. Our expanded wastewater plant laboratory allows us to do technologically advanced water analysis, while our $117 million combined sewer overflow (CSO) control program is an investment in protecting the James River from untreated sewer overflows that can come with heavy rains.


Along with cleaning and maintenance, new green infrastructure technology helps to slow or reduce stormwater runoff pollution. While common stormwater infrastructure involves pipes, tanks and treatment plants, green infrastructure uses trees, plants and soil to manage stormwater runoff where it falls. Examples of green infrastructure include permeable pavers, rain gardens and rain barrels.  

In 2014, the Department of Public Utilities:

  • Installed 14,251 feet of water mains and repaired 206 water main breaks.

  • Checked 875 valves and 376 fire hydrants in preparation for 2015 UCI World Road Cycling Championship races coming to Richmond.

  • Successfully completed annual testing and training of the floodwall closures.

  • Responded to five James River flooding events, two of which were in the “Moderate Flooding” category.

  • Rehabilitated 25,766 feet of some of the oldest sewer mains.

  • Completed construction of the $16.5 million water basin covers at the water treatment plant.

  • Completed a $2.2 million complete renovation of the Shockoe Sanitary Pump Station.

  • Achieved the Gold Award for Water Treatment Plant Performance for Excellence in Clarification, Filtration and Backwash, issued by the Virginia Health Department Office of Drinking Water.

  • Lab passed all performance evaluation samples for drinking water.