Turning Over a New Leaf: Modeling Green Infrastructure in Atlanta

EarthzineDEVELOP 2016 Spring VPS, Managing Water Quality and Precipitation Anomalies, Original

  1. Category: Managing Water Quality and Precipitation Anomalies
    Project Team: Atlanta Water Resources
    Team Location: University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia
Overlay of selected data layers used in LUCIS and SWAT for this project. Image Credit: Atlanta Water Resources Team

Overlay of selected data layers used in LUCIS and SWAT for this project. Image Credit: Atlanta Water Resources Team

Christopher Cameron
Beatriz Avila
Veronica Fay
Jason Reynolds
Alex Smith
Jacob Spaulding
Wenjing Xu

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)


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 surface 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, can help reduce sediment and nutrient-laden stormwater runoff in the Chattahoochee River watershed 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 NASA 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 conflict as it relates to existing and future conservation areas in Atlanta. The SWAT model produced an analysis of pollution sources and hydrologic processes in the study area. Together, these model results provided project partners with an integrated understanding of water resource issues in Metro Atlanta that emphasized local land use scenarios.

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