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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 any pollution reduction that can be attributed to the Clean Water Atlanta (CWA) program implementation, that was developed after two Consent Decree 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 SSO Consent Decree event-driven sampling and consolidate other sampling required under the NPDES program.

The major components of the LTWM Program include: station selection and installation, water quality monitoring, maintenance, and data retrieval; biological monitoring, data management and reporting, and the development of a watershed management plan. Monitoring station selection was based on a review of current water quality status [303(d) list], existing monitoring programs, point and non-point pollutant sources, current and proposed capital improvement plan (CIP) projects, and field reconnaissance. Twenty stations were selected to monitor stream flow, water quality, and biotic integrity within each of the major watershed within the city limits.

This effort includes the establishment of 10 continuous water quality and flow gaging stations, 2 continuous flow gaging stations, and 8 “intermittent” water quality and flow (stage) stations. Water quality sampling will be conducted 12 times annually at all 20 stations on a hydrologic basis, to calibrate the continuous water quality stations, and collected information at intermittent stations. A synoptic or one-time water quality sampling event will also be collected from 40 locations under both high- and low-flow conditions to identify sources of pollution within the city limit. Storm sampling will also be conducted using automatic samplers to track the flux of suspended sediments and pollutants during periods of high flow.

The biological monitoring task includes the data collection and analysis of fish and macroinvertebrate communities, as well as habitat assessment from all 20 stations. This effort was initiated in December of 2001 and with the most recent guidance from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the proposed frequency would require sampling again in late 2003 for macroinvertebrates and early 2004 for fish communities.

A critical element of the LTWM Program is the data management and reporting task that will include development of web-based tool to efficiently manage the watershed monitoring data. The watershed data management system will include data import, management and reporting tools. It will facilitate screening against water quality standards, trend analysis, data reporting, and support future water quality modeling. A public access web page will be developed to allow viewing of discharge and in situ water quality parameters in real-time.

The data collected from the LTWM Program will be used, in part, to develop a Watershed Management Plan that includes realistic, flexible frameworks for watershed management that improve aquatic and biotic integrity and can be successfully implemented. The watershed management plan will be developed based on analysis of water quality and biotic integrity data from the first year of the program. The management plan will include the development of guidelines and recommendations for improvement and protection of streams so they can eventually satisfy their designated use. In addition, the data is intended to provide an iterative feedback to direct and prioritize future CIP projects.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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