Office of Watershed Protection
Todd S. Hill, P.E., LEED AP, EnvSP
The Office of Watershed Protection is responsible for the development and implementation of the environmental compliance and inspection programs including natural resource management, water resources protection, water quality management, monitoring, and analysis, industrial pretreatment, stormwater compliance, permit and regulatory compliance, and regional water resource planning.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is the area of land from which all rainfall (runoff) drains into a body of water. A watershed is like a funnel—collecting all the water within the drainage area and channeling it into a waterway.
The City of Atlanta’s geography is unique in that it is one of the few cities to be located on a subcontinental divide. That means that rain that falls in the northern and western areas of the City drains into the Chattahoochee River and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico; while rain that falls in the southern and eastern parts of the City drains into the Ocmulgee River and, eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. The Chattahoochee River collects drainage from seven watersheds in the City including Long Island, Nancy, Peachtree, Proctor, Sandy, Utoy and Camp creeks. The Ocmulgee River collects drainage from three watersheds in the City including South River and Sugar and Intrenchment creeks.
Why Are Watersheds Important?
Healthy watersheds are essential for providing clean drinking water, recreational activities and wildlife habitat. Additionally, most water pollution control efforts addressed point source pollution commonly associated with industrial activities and sewage treatment plants. While these regulations have become effective at controlling point source pollution, we have come to learn that non-point source pollution (stormwater runoff) is the leading cause of water quality problems.
As land in a watershed is developed, natural areas are converted to impervious surfaces such as streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Stormwater that would normally soak into the ground becomes runoff. While some stormwater runoff is normal, the increased volume of runoff associated with impervious surfaces can cause streambank erosion, flooding, property damage and even the loss of life. Additionally, this runoff can pick up pollutants such as sediment and chemicals and dump them directly to the streams and rivers we depend on to sustain life. Because land, and the water that runs over and through it, are intimately connected, a watershed approach to managing water quality is important. A watershed approach considers all the activities within a landscape that affect watershed health. A watershed approach is essential to protecting, restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems.
How is the City Protecting Watersheds?
The City of Atlanta is committed to protecting our watersheds and improving the environment. Several efforts are under way to reclaim and protect Atlanta’s streams.
• Greenspace Protection
• Green Infrastructure
• Streambank Stabilization
• Flood Prevention
• Storm Sewer Infrastructure Maintenance
Soil Erosion and Sedimentation
• Grease Management
• Combined Sewer Overflow Tunnels
• Industrial Pretreatment Program
• Remote Monitoring Program
• Fish Consumption Guidelines
What Can I Do?
There are many things that you can do at home or work to help protect and enhance the health of our watersheds. The Metro North Georgia Clean Water Campaign web site has many excellent suggestions.
Site Development Plan Review Division (land disturbance permits, plan review): 404-330-6249
Report a stormwater or flooding issue: 404-546-0311
Fats, Oils and Grease Management: 404-546-1400
Office of Watershed Protection
City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
72 Marietta Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303