Residents voiced concerns about local flooding at a July 11 open house in Buckhead held by the city’s Department of Watershed Management as it updates a strategic plan.
Deborah Walkling was among roughly 70 residents who attended the meeting at the Lovett School, which was focused on stormwater drainage issues in the areas of the Long Island and Nancy creeks in northern Buckhead. She said she was hoping to get some answers on how to better communicate issues with the department.
“[That is] exactly what I am getting,” Walking said. “I am learning a little bit about what watershed management does, what areas they cover and the biggest priority, of course, is getting the streets repaired. Now, I have a contact that I can go to and say, ‘This street is not being repaired because of a water issue.’”
The meeting was the third installment of seven planned throughout the city, with one about Buckhead’s lower Peachtree Creek area coming in September. The meetings are intended to inform the community about initiatives and stormwater projects, while also gathering feedback about sewage overflows and other issues.
The meeting was set up in an open-house style, with educational booths focusing on different facets of the department, including watershed improvement, stormwater management, floodplain insurance and the MOST (Municipal Option Sales Tax) projects.
City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents Buckhead’s District 8, was among the attendees. He is chair of the council’s City Utilities Committee, which supervises for the Departments of Watershed Management and Public Works.
“The events that we are having are more frequent and more intense,” Matzigkeit said. “The Watershed Management is doing a strategic plan update to make sure we are able to grow our city and manage these more intense events by putting lots of money into stormwater and into billions of dollars of green infrastructure that we are putting in…so this is really another important piece.”
Matzigkeit also spoke about flooding issues at Atlanta Memorial Park.
“We are doing lots of big improvements in Peachtree Creek, but yet we still continue, on major rain events, to have sewage overflows,” he said. “So, any time that you have a sewage overflow in your park, on your land, in your street, that is a pretty significant event, that gets people’s attention, and so we have to address it.”
The Blue Heron Nature Preserve and Livable Buckhead had booths at the event.
Blue Heron is a nonprofit that operates a nature preserve at 4055 Roswell Road in North Buckhead. Some of the property that the organization maintains has falls within Watershed Management’s jurisdiction, so the preserve has an agreement with the city to manage the land. Blue Heron is partnered with the city on two projects involving wetlands restoration and creating artificial beaver dams to help mitigate flooding.
Livable Buckhead is a nonprofit organization focused on environmental sustainability issues.
“We are here to support this initiative, as it coincides with the development projects that we are doing in our community,” said Michelle Simard, the organization’s sustainability program manager.
Watershed Management operated its own booth, where Deputy Commissioner Todd Hill listened to residents’ concerns and took down their contact information for follow-ups and answers.
Anyone having stormwater issues can contact the city by calling 311 or visiting atl311.com.