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LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT AND GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE DEMONSTRATION STUDY FOR THE CUMBERLAND COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT IN COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA

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Development of commercial and residential property and infrastructure has a significant impact on the landscape. By increasing the amount of imperviousness within an area, the natural hydrologic cycle is altered and the volume and rate of stormwater runoff from the land increases. These increases can cause significant damage to streams and lakes by accelerating stream bank erosion leading to degraded water quality and loss of aquatic habitat. Areas of the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID) in Cobb County, Georgia are especially sensitive to development due to their location relative to the Chattahoochee River Corridor and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA) managed by the National Park Service (NPS). For these reasons, the Cumberland CID was especially aware of the issues with development and decided to conduct a pilot study to evaluate the potential benefits and costs of implementing low impact development (LID) techniques to minimize stormwater impacts from future development and redevelopment in the CID.

Through this study, the benefits of implementing LID techniques to minimize the effects of development on stormwater pollution, stream bank erosion, and habitat degradation were evaluated. A modeling study was completed for a typical development located within the Cumberland CID using the low impact feasibility evaluation (LIFE™) model. The LIFE™ model is a continuous-simulation model that accounts for runoff from all categories of land cover and the physical process for stormwater mitigation that occur within a variety of LID best management practices (BMPs). The modeling study showed the effects of various stormwater management scenarios on the site hydrology and evaluated the implementation costs of such scenarios. Additionally, a capital cost analysis was conducted.

The modeling study showed that total site runoff for predevelopment conditions is very low, consistent with expectations for the existing forested land use. The average annual site runoff for predevelopment conditions was only 10 percent of the total annual rainfall. Total site runoff for conventional stormwater management was significantly higher than predevelopment conditions, as high as 62% of the annual rainfall. It was clearly shown how conventional stormwater management approaches transport runoff away from the site quickly to downstream control facilities and receiving streams. An LID stormwater management approach mimics predevelopment hydrology regarding the amount of annual site runoff and peak runoff rates. The total site runoff and peak runoff rates for GI stormwater management are slightly higher than predevelopment conditions but are much closer to predevelopment conditions than the conventional stormwater management approach.

This study confirmed that there are many potential benefits to LID stormwater management. The capital cost analysis showed that the cost of stormwater management using LID BMPs and conventional stormwater management systems (catch basins, pipes, and detention ponds) are comparable while the environmental benefits are clearly in favor of LID. The Cumberland CID is in the process of evaluating the findings of the study and is considering various implementation issues including regulatory framework, public acceptance, and maintenance requirements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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