ATLANTA — The Atlanta City Council unanimously adopted the amended Post-Development Stormwater Management Ordinance legislation drafted by the Department of Watershed Management that became effective Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. The ordinance promotes the use of green infrastructure practices in new and redevelopment projects in the city. The Post-Development Stormwater Ordinance is a requirement by a regional planning agency. However, the city went a step further to protect the property of its residents and businesses and reduce impacts to natural streams.

The Department of Watershed Management worked with real estate and development industry stakeholders, as well as neighborhood and environmental organizations, to craft the amendment that considers economic development while at the same time keeping the intent of reducing the impacts of stormwater runoff. The amended ordinance offers the option of using a menu of green infrastructure techniques and measures that mimic natural conditions and eliminate unsightly detention ponds. These techniques not only reduce the volume of runoff but remove pollutants as well.

“Green infrastructure policies and systems have emerged as best practices for governments that are committed to fostering economic development and healthy communities. This new ordinance gives the city a set of tools to reduce drainage problems and stormwater pollution, which are serious problems for urban areas and waterways,” said Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui.

Typically, developers are required to offset the increase in runoff volume with detention ponds that are often unsightly and, over time, a maintenance headache. This amended ordinance allows more flexibility to developers in selecting options to reduce and treat stormwater onsite. By using green techniques over traditional “gray” infrastructure, developers can lower the cost of development by reducing the need for oversized pipes, curbs & gutters, vaults, and detention ponds. Popular green infrastructure techniques include preservation of green space, installation of permeable pavement, rain gardens, green roofs and bioswales. In addition, well-designed, vegetated practices can provide a visual amenity for a development, particularly when compared with hardened drainage infrastructure or large detention ponds.

“We are grateful for the support of Mayor Kasim Reed and the City Council,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina. “This ordinance helps us address a serious problem using methods to promote natural ways to clean and reduce stormwater runoff while ‘greening’ the City even more to further support Mayor Reed’s goal of making Atlanta a top-tier city for sustainability.”