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Atlanta — Developing an inclusive vision to meet future water demands, CH2M recently completed an integrated water resource management plan highlighting inter-connections between water supply and conservation, wastewater management and stormwater, and watershed management across 15 counties and 95 cities in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

The final integrated water resource management plan received unanimous approval by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Board in June and represents one of the only “integrated water resource management plans” in the U.S. for a major metropolitan area.

Previously, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District prepared separate plans for water supply, wastewater and watershed management which are now included in the updated single, integrated document. The integrated plan is based on a set of regional policy goals such as:

  • Maximize the use of existing facilities and enhance reliability of wastewater pumping stations.
  • Increase water conservation and efficiency and ensure consistency with existing regulatory programs.
  • Use best management for non-potable reuse and make appropriate use of reclaimed water.
  • Promote maintenance of decentralized wastewater systems.
  • Reduce wastewater treatment facility influent variability.
  • Consider return flows to support downstream uses and continue to protect water quality.
  • Support adoption of advanced treatment technologies.
  • Promote green infrastructure.

“We’re fortunate that the water managers across the Metro District are engaged in implementing integrated strategies throughout our region,” said Director of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Katherine Zitsch. “We know our continued success in integrated water management depends on pushing further to engage elected officials, planning and zoning staff and health departments, too.”

The updated regional water plan is consistent with the One Water approach stewarded by the U.S. Water Alliance and encourages a mindset that all water, no matter the type, is valuable and should be managed sustainably and in an integrated way.

To help the Metro District shift toward this mindset, CH2M and their partners at Black & Veatch and Policy Works updated the water and wastewater demands for the entire region through 2050 and characterized existing watershed conditions. The team also evaluated current implementation actions to address identified needs and developed a model to support the evaluation of benefits of using an integrated approach to water resource management.

“While the concepts of integrated water resource management are not new, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s new plan is one of the only regional plans in the United States that truly integrates water supply, wastewater and stormwater management principals,” said Danny Johnson, manager of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. “More importantly, the plan provides specific actions that each of the counties and cities in the Metro District must implement to help meet goals for sustainable water resource management now and into the future.”

In addition to the Metro District, CH2M is supporting utilities and agencies around the globe as the One Water movement expands. In June, Peter Nicol, Practice Leader for State and Local Government Sector at CH2M, moderated a “One Water Planning: How to Make It The New Norm” workshop at the One Water Summit. Workshop speakers included CH2M clients Santa Clara Valley Water District and Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, where CH2M led an Environmental Business Journal award-winning water resources management strategy program.

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