When It Rains, It Pours: Assessing Stormwater Runoff in Atlanta

Category: Land Cover Change & Disturbances
Project Team: Atlanta Water Resources II
Team Location: University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia

Landsat 8- and ASTER-based greenspace suitability analysis within metro Atlanta, Georgia. Image Credit: Atlanta Water Resources II Team

Landsat 8- and ASTER-based greenspace suitability analysis within metro Atlanta, Georgia. Image Credit: Atlanta Water Resources II Team

Authors:
Christopher Cameron
Ike Astuti
Mark Beatty
Natalia Bhattacharjee (née Shim)
Manasi Parkhi
Alex Smith

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Rosanna Rivero (University of Georgia, College of Environment & Design)
Dr. Marguerite Madden (University of Georgia, Center for Geospatial Research)

Past/Other Contributors:
Caren Remillard (Center Lead)
Beatriz Avila
Veronica Fay
Jason Reynolds
Jacob Spaulding
Wenjing Xu

Abstract:

Residents of metro Atlanta pay the highest rates in the nation for municipal water and sewer, in part due to massive recent investments in infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff. As development continues at a rapid pace in Atlanta and its suburbs, expanding areas of impervious surfaces will continue to exacerbate this problem. Forested land is known to slow runoff during storms, allowing water to infiltrate, and the soil to absorb particles and contaminants before entering the surface water. Enabling the protection of existing green infrastructure, or strategically planting more trees to intercept stormwater runoff, will help reduce sediment and nutrient-laden stormwater runoff in local watersheds in addition to limiting the needs of future city infrastructure. The DEVELOP team at the University of Georgia partnered with The Nature Conservancy to identify conservation targets in the Atlanta region to improve existing green infrastructure and locate additional areas suitable for expansion of reforestation efforts using data from Landsat 8 and Terra satellites. This was accomplished through a combined, watershed-scale assessment of metro Atlanta using the Land-Use Conflict Identification Strategy (LUCIS) and Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) models. The LUCIS model was employed in this project to identify areas of land use prioritization as it relates to existing and future conservation areas in Atlanta. The SWAT model produced an analysis of streamflow and runoff within the study area. Together, these model results provided project partners with an integrated understanding of water resource issues in metro Atlanta that emphasized land use scenarios.

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