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The City of Atlanta (COA) has initiated a Long-term Watershed Monitoring (LTWM) Program for all major watersheds within the City limits. The purpose of this program is to collect data needed to assess stream improvements and identify any pollution reduction that can be attributed to the Clean Water Atlanta (CWA) program implementation, which was implemented after two Consent Decrees were imposed from a 1995 lawsuit. Although there are no direct Consent Decree requirements or penalties associated with the LTWM Program, it is intended to replace the current Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Consent Decree eventdriven sampling and consolidate other sampling required under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.

The LTWM Program includes the following major tasks:

Station Selection, Set-up, and Installation

Water Quality Monitoring, Maintenance, and Data Retrieval

Biological Monitoring

Data Management and Reporting

Public Involvement

Watershed Management Plan

Twenty stations were selected to monitor stream flow, water quality, and biotic integrity within each of the major watersheds within the city limits. Installation of the situ water quality and flow monitoring equipment is expected to be completed in May of 2003. The overall water quality monitoring program is scheduled to begin in May of 2003; however, a high flow synoptic event was captured in two river basins in March 2003. Initial data results are expected back during May. Biological monitoring was initiated at all 20 station locations in December of 2001 and the results are presented herein. The watershed data management system is currently in the development phase and should be completed by summer 2003. To date, the LTWM Program has been approved by the CWA Team and reviewed by a numberof local stakeholders, including environmental, regulatory, academic, and adjacent county municipal communities.

Because the LTWM Program is not yet fully implemented and no water quality data are currently available, the conclusions discussed herein focus primarily on the results from the biological sampling efforts conducted in December of 2001. In general, biotic integrity appears to be degraded throughout the study area, due primarily to compromised habitat conditions. The data collected during the first year of the program will be used to support the watershed management planning process, which will include development of guidelines and recommendations to protect and improve water quality and biotic integrity of streams throughout Atlanta. Implementation of a watershed monitoring plan, and the use of the data it generates in assessing recommendations from the watershed management plan, involves an iterative process and may be revised to better support the goals and objectives of the LTWM Program.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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