Last year, the Atlanta Regional Commission began an effort to make an update to Volume 1 and 2 of the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual fourteen years after its inaugural publication. After years of experience with the current manual, a number of needed improvements have been identified and stormwater treatment technologies have continued to evolve. Although the manual is not a regulatory document itself, the final content of the manual has a tremendous influence on new development in Georgia because many jurisdictions, including almost all of Metro Atlanta, have adopted the manual as the technical guidelines that must be met for all stormwater management. The Council believes that an update to address shortcomings in the present manual and provide more options for stormwater management is needed, and is excited to be a part of the updates to the new manual, and wants to work with its members and other stakeholders to improve stormwater management practices in Georgia.
WHERE THINGS ARE
A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was assembled last year. Council for Quality Growth member Alan Neal was selected to represent the Council on the Technical Advisory Group.
Council Member Alan Neal is a Professional Engineer with 17 years of experience working in Atlanta and the Southeast Region, specializing in new development design and stormwater management. Alan is a senior project engineer with Foresite Group in Norcross, Georgia.
An approach document was published in early 2015 setting out the scope of the manual revisions based on feedback from the Technical Advisory Group. A forty percent draft of Volume II was released for comment on March 30, and a forty percent draft of Volume I was released on May 5th.
WHAT IS NEXT
Comments will be assembled and discussed with the Technical Advisory Group to develop the final manual drafts. The technical requirements in the manual will be used to develop tools to calculate some of the requirements. Final Drafts are anticipated to be released at the end of summer for another Review and Comment period, and it is anticipated that the Final versions will be published before the years end.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There are a numerous changes to the new manual. The biggest change is the incorporation of a Supplementary Coastal Document into the manual itself. The Coastal Supplement incorporated runoff limits (infiltration requirements) for coastal areas that adopted the supplement. Its incorporation will offer a new array of Best Management Practices into the manual that could open the door to allowing green infrastructure and Low Impact Development practices statewide as a means to control runoff from a site. While we are excited about the addition of green infrastructure practices, The Council will be closely following how this develops. It is critical that the incorporation of the supplement does not place additional requirements that may be difficult or impossible to implement and maintain on all regions in the state, nor burden existing properties in a manner that discourages redevelopment. The 40% draft of the manual does not appear to provide local jurisdictions the option to exclude or exempt runoff limits in situations where it may not be deemed practical if they have adopted the manual by ordinance.
Other changes to look for are the inclusion of new Stormwater management Best Management Practices, particularly Green Infrastructure practices, and updates to others like bioretention where design standards have evolved and been proven successful in other parts of the US.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The Council invites all of its members to participate in the review of the Manual Drafts. There are two ways you can provide your feedback.
- Participate online by going to the GSM Comments Page. There you can download the drafts and provide comments. Note that comments for Volume 2 are due by 5:00 PM on May 15, 2015. Comments on Volume I are due by 5:00 PM on June 10, 2015.
- Participate by providing comments and concerns to the Council for Quality Growth. Please contact James Touchton and Alan Neal about your comments and concerns regarding the manual so we can help keep you aware of the status on your particular concerns as the manual develops.