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Gwinnett County, Georgia recently updated the storm water management portion of the Development Regulations for the second time in as many years. There are several reasons for revising the regulations, but the major goal of the revisions is to have the streams in Gwinnett County meet their designated use of fishing and water supply. Reasons that the county revised the regulations, how we determined what the revisions should be and what revisions were made are common issues for many communities. Gwinnett County is a 443 square mile county located in the northeast suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with a population of 590,000.

Four water quality regulations were the driving force behind revising Gwinnett County's regulations. As required by the Clean Water Act, Gwinnett has had a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Storm Water Discharge Permit requiring an improvement in our stream water quality since June of 1994. This act also mandates Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL's). Gwinnett County has 140 miles of streams that are not meeting their designated use of fishing and recreation because they exceed the standard for fecal coliform. Revisions to the Erosion and Sedimentation which added stream buffer requirements was the second legislation driving changes. A third recent regulation is the Georgia Growth Strategies Bill. This law identifies water supply watersheds and places special restrictions on them. Gwinnett County has two small water supply watersheds. Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is implementing a fourth set of water quality regulations, the Georgia Water Quality Control Act, along with requests for expanded water withdrawal or wastewater discharges.

The six major components of our Watershed Protection Plan are Public Education/ Participation, Pollution Prevention, Development Regulation, Planning, Engineering and Construction and Maintenance. The focus of this discussion is Gwinnett County's development regulations, which are a part of the development regulation component of the plan.

Both water quantity and water quality must be addressed to improve water quality of streams. Our current storm water management strategy is based on four key storm events; protection from major flooding events such as the 100-year, overbank flooding protection from events such as the 10 and 25-year storm, channel bank protection for the 1-year storm, and water quality treatment for rainfall events of 1.2 inches and smaller.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-01-01

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