Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Working Towards Watershed Management in the City of Atlanta

In 2002, the leadership of the City of Atlanta kicked off a comprehensive program to have the cleanest urban streams and rivers in the country within a decade, recognizing that the City’s future economic growth, jobs, affordability, and quality of life all depend on clean water. Atlanta is faced with many obstacles on the way to meeting this challenge; a few of these include:
  • Ongoing implementation of court-mandated activities to improve the City’s unique mix of aging combined and separated wastewater infrastructure
  • Significant costs and an ambitious schedule associated with this infrastructure upgrade and maintenance
  • A dense urban environment which is experiencing major redevelopment activities; from 2000 to 2005 the City increased its population by 6 percent to approximately 445,000 residents and its total housing stock by 11 percent while less than 15 percent of the total City area remained undeveloped in 2003 (Atlanta Regional Commission [ARC], 2003)
  • The fact that all of the primary tributaries in the City are currently on the Georgia 303(d) list of impaired streams as partially supporting or not supporting their designated uses of “fishing” (Georgia Environmental Protection Division [GA EPD], 2006)
  • The small size/drainage area of the City’s primary waterways, relative to other urban areas in the United States, making them particularly difficult to manage for watershed integrity

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