Project Overview

Background

In 1998, the City of Atlanta signed a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Consent Decree (Consent Decree), which resulted from the settlement of an enforcement action taken against the City by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Georgia Department of Environmental Protection (EPD), the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund, Inc., the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Inc., and W. Robert Hancock, Jr., for violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act. In the signing of the Consent Decree, the City of Atlanta committed to several projects designed to improve water quality in Metro Atlanta and downstream, including the Greenway Acquisition Project. The Greenway Acquisition Project is referenced in the Consent Decree as a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP).

The $25 million Greenway Acquisition Project is to be implemented in the City of Atlanta and fourteen (14) counties in Metro Atlanta through March, 2007. The intent of the Greenway Acquisition Project is to acquire streamside "buffer" areas to protect streamside areas from development and to provide a vegetated filter for surface runoff. The overarching goal of the project is to protect water quality by reducing erosion and non-point source pollution; it is not recreation-oriented.

During the time period of January 1999 to March 2001, the City, with assistance from a 10-member citizens' advisory committee (SAC) and the public, developed a Greenway Acquisition Plan to guide the land acquisition and management efforts along selected stream segments of "Designated Streams." As defined by the Consent Decree, "Designated Streams" include "(i) the Chattahoochee River corridor from the crossing of Interstate 75 in Fulton County to the crossing of U.S. 27 in Heard County, including all tributary streams in that corridor; (ii) All tributaries of the Chattahoochee River originating in or flowing through the City of Atlanta from their headwaters or the point they enter the City to their confluence with the Chattahoochee River, including but not limit to Peachtree Creek, Nancy Creek, Proctor Creek and Utoy Creek; (iii) The South River corridor for its entire length, including all tributary streams in that corridor; and (iv) All tributaries of the South River originating in or flowing through the City of Atlanta from their headwaters or the point they enter the City to their confluence with the South River, including, but not limited to, Intrenchment Creek."

Properties that have been targeted for acquisition along selected stream segments of designated streams have been assigned a priority of 1, 2, or 3 (Priority-1 being most important), based on a perceived potential of an individual property to protect water quality and the environment. Currently underway, the acquisition effort is focused on the acquisition of Priority-1 properties. Acquisition efforts will move to Priority-2 and Priority-3 properties as funds and opportunity allow.


Ways to Participate

There are several ways in which an owner of a targeted property can participate in the Greenway Acquisition Project: (1) donate an entire property or a portion thereof; (2) donate a conservation easement; (3) sell a property or a portion thereof at a bargain price or at fair market value; or (4) sell a conservation easement at a bargain price or at fair market value. Due to the large project area and the limited amount of Greenway Acquisition Project funds, the City of Atlanta encourages donations, bargain sales, and conservation easements to increase the amount of streamside property that is protected.

To assess a targeted property owner's desired level of participation, a representative of the City makes initial contact by mail, and invites the targeted property owner to an area-wide meeting. At the meeting, the targeted property owner can ask questions about the Greenway Acquisition Project and indicate whether or not he/she would be interested in further site-specific discussions. If agreed, a City representative will then work with individual property owners to determine a desired method and level of participation. All property owner participation is voluntary. If you are interested in participating in the Greenway Acquisition Project, you can email us at greenways@usinfrastructure.com, or contact us directly.


City Maintenance

Once acquired, it is the responsibility of the City of Atlanta (as mandated by the Consent Decree), to maintain properties acquired under the Greenway Acquisition Project (Greenway Properties) in perpetuity. The City must maintain Greenway Properties in a natural, undisturbed state to protect water quality, animal and plant habitats, and wetlands along Metro Atlanta rivers and creeks, from erosion, flood damage, and clear-cutting.

Specifically, the City must perform the following:

  • Maintain all Greenway Properties it acquires in a natural, vegetative state.
  • Inspect all Greenway Properties at a minimum of twice a year to verify compliance with the guidelines established in the Greenway Acquisition Plan, as well as agreements established on a case-by-case basis through individual conservation easement negotiations.
  • Take corrective care actions upon discovery of any prohibited activity during inspections

The following activities are prohibited on Greenway Properties and are activities inspectors look for during routine inspections:

  • Burning, burying, or depositing of waste.
  • Clearcutting.*
  • Operation of wheeled or tracked equipment.*
  • Construction of roads.*
  • Handling, storage, application, or disposal of hazardous materials.
  • Dumping of debris, litter, waste, or other trash.
  • Disturbance of waters, including any wetland.*
  • Purposeful introduction of exotic plants or species.
  • Unauthorized public entry.
  • Building or construction activities, except as part of a permitted public access development or public utility.
  • Alteration of the natural stream channel and/or streamflow.*
  • Vegetative manicuring along the stream side such as mowing, cutting tree limbs, and/or trimming of vegetation.*
  • Livestock and equestrian facilities

*Exceptions to these prohibited items include necessary actions to provide for public safety, emergency operations, to prevent spread of vegetative disease, and as part of an activity authorized by the City or other responsible government agency.

Required Statement

This project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action taken jointly by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), and Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund, Inc., the Chattachoochee RiverKeeper Inc., and W. Robert Hancock, Jr., for violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act.

 


If you are interested in participating in the Greenway Acquisition Project, please contact us directly.