City of Atlanta moving ahead with Green Infrastructure


Citizen Advisory Committee members looking over the cities new green infrastructure plan | Jenny Hoffner

Citizen Advisory Committee members looking over the City’s new green infrastructure plan | Jenny Hoffner

Atlanta is known for being a city of trees and lush green landscapes.  At the same time, it is also known for being a congested sprawling metropolis with plenty of pavement and related stormwater problems and water supply issues. 

Well, in an effort to fix some of these problems and tip the scales in favor of a greener Atlanta, the City is opting for green stormwater infrastructure that increases greenspace, quality of life, health and wellness in addition to effectively addressing localized flooding and stormwater pollution.

On February 4, the Atlanta City Council approved significant changes to the “post-construction stormwater ordinance” [PDF] that will require the use of green stormwater infrastructure to manage stormwater onsite. Going forward, new and re-development sites greater than 500 square feet are required to treat the first inch of stormwater runoff with green infrastructure best management practices including rain gardens, bioswales, permeable paving, green roofs, etc. 

The ordinance also requires that new homes and large additions of 1000 square feet or more manage the first inch of stormwater runoff with green infrastructure best management practices.  This is a huge step forward and puts Atlanta among progressive cities beginning to manage their water with natural infrastructure.

Meanwhile, green stormwater infrastructure is already moving forward in the Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta.  The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management along with the local Council Member, Carla Smith, have been hard at work convening a Citizens Advisory Committee to provide feedback on pilot green stormwater infrastructure projects designed to take some first steps to address localized flooding in  Peoplestown.

American Rivers advocated for the City to pursue a green infrastructure approach [PDF] to fix the flooding and the city has committed to it. Thus far the City has installed six green stormwater infrastructure projects and has plans for more. In addition, they have done extensive study of the area and are planning a $6 million permeable pavement project to infiltrate water, easing the strain on existing pipes in the neighborhood.

These are important and encouraging building blocks from which to construct a more coordinated and comprehensive green stormwater infrastructure program.  We look forward to the City’s next steps.

Rain garden in Adair Park, GA | Julie Todd

Rain garden in Adair Park, GA | Julie Todd