Atlanta adopts green infrastructure action plan

The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) announced recently that the Atlanta City Council signed a resolution approving the citywide Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan. Like many cities around the nation, the City of Atlanta has struggled to manage stormwater runoff that leads to flooding, degraded water quality and property damage. In response, DWM developed the Action Plan to incorporate environmentally sound engineering best practices into stormwater management planning.

“Transforming Atlanta into a top-tier city in sustainability has been a priority for Mayor Kasim Reed,” said Commissioner Kishia L. Powell. “The Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan allows the City of Atlanta to take a holistic approach to stormwater management by incorporating designs that are environmentally beneficial while reducing flooding and sewer overflows.”

In a collaborative effort, DWM worked with various city departments and offices including Aviation, Public Works, Parks, the Office of Resilience, Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Beltline, Inc. as well as non-profit organizations such as American Rivers, The Conservation Fund, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Eco-Action, the Nature Conservancy, Southface, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the Community Improvement Association to develop the Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan.

The concept of green infrastructure provides an alternative to traditional pipe replacement by incorporating elements designed to mimic nature. This new approach works to effectively manage urban stormwater and reduce flooding, erosion and sewer overflows.  In addition to increased capacity relief, green infrastructure provides community amenities and enhancements. These multiple benefits of green infrastructure were recognized in the recently released Atlanta Resilience Strategy, which incorporates the Green Infrastructure Plan as a key tool to address the urban impacts of severe weather events.

Atlanta has emerged as a leader in green infrastructure through the successful adoption of a comprehensive post-development stormwater ordinance, the construction of the two-acre Historic Fourth Ward Pond and the installation of more than four miles of permeable pavers in streets in the southeastern portion of the city. Furthermore, Atlanta was selected as one of state’s “Clean 13” by the Georgia Water Coalition, a recognition which highlighted DWM’s efforts to protect the water and natural resources of Georgia. In 2016, the city permitted 901 green infrastructure projects. As a result, approximately 175 million gallons of stormwater runoff was diverted from the city’s creeks and streams, as well as from the combined sewer system.

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