Healthy Streams Initiative

Background

Sandy Springs experienced sustained commercial and residential development from about 1960 to the end of the 1990s. During this period an extraordinary amount of impervious surface (primarily parking lots and driveways) was introduced into the watersheds of Sandy Springs. Professional and academic research has determined that once a watershed has greater than 25% impervious surface streams within the watershed are at risk of severe degradation. Some research indicates that impairment could begin with as little as 10% impervious surface within a watershed.

Because of this sustained development, with little or no environmental controls, Sandy Springs watersheds have considerably more than 25% impervious surface (Marsh Creek has 74%) and all but Ball Mill Creek have experienced biological impairment.

The Need for a Healthy Streams Task Force

Environment Sandy Springs recently met with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia EPD, and others to determine the current status of our streams and how to improve their health. The primary takeaway, not surprisingly is that the amount of impervious surface in the watersheds was the primary factor in the impairment of the health of the aquatic life in our steams and that a sustained effort will be required to improve the health of the streams.

A secondary takeaway form the meeting was that State data on streams was dispersed among several State organizational units and that the water sampling was often taken at only one point in a given stream, thereby restricting the city’s ability to analyze the environmental dynamics of streams. This lack of comprehensive data could be addressed if the city and Georgia Adopt-A-Stream were to work together to recruit and train community volunteers in the collection of data on the level of biological impairment.

Environment Sandy Springs is of the opinion that the City should appoint a Healthy Streams Task force that would make recommendations on how the City should proceed in terms of understanding and mitigating the impairment of Sandy Springs streams.