Source water protection strategies for metro Atlanta watersheds
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Source water is a finite resource that needs to be protected for the long-term benefit of human health. The current approach for protection of source water is two-fold: assessment of existing vulnerability of a source water watershed to contamination and development of a protection plan. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) have provided extensive guidance on how to conduct a source water assessment; however, relatively little guidance exists on how to prepare and implement a protection plan. Source Water Assessment Plans (SWAPs) for twenty-eight Metro-Atlanta water supply intakes were completed in 2001 by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) . These Assessments indicate that some intakes have a potentially high susceptibility to pollution due to the density of contaminant point sources and high amounts of impervious surface (indicator of nonpoint source impacts). The source water protection strategies described herein outline a framework for local protection plans and provides a number of strategies that are appropriate for source water watersheds of different sizes and levels of impact. The recommendations in this document include programmatic recommendations that would be applied in each of the jurisdictions as well as pollution source specific strategies. Programmatic strategies include implementation of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Model Stormwater Management Ordinances adopted in October 2002 to address nonpoint source loadings, implementation of the G AEPD Environmental Planning Criteria to require set backs from streams in source water watersheds, better enforcement of existing regulations, and acquisition and preservation of land within source water watersheds. A number of unique challenges exist in the development of source water protection strategies, some of which overlap with recommendations from Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation strategies being developed simultaneously. Implementation of effective nonpoint source/stormwater control measures will address many of the primary sources of pollution contributing to both water quality impairments associated with TMDL listings and potential source water contamination. In order to minimize costs, source water protection strategies should be combined, to the extent possible, with watershed protection and management programs.