Rain is a good thing, but in urban and suburban environments we've complicated the natural cycle with the addition of impervious surfaces--roads and driveways, roofs and sidewalks--areas that block water from soaking into the ground. While they serve important purposes, like providing efficient travel and keeping the rain off our heads, they force rainwater to move horizontally. They also give rainwater a new name--runoff. Runoff causes problems for two main reasons, quantity...more water enters streams with a higher velocity, and quality...runoff carries pollutants from the surfaces it washes across. Both factors bring negative impacts to the streams where the water travels. So, it is vital that we all do something to reduce runoff. Every effort provides benefit, from the smallest sideyard rain garden to an expansive city park.
The city of Atlanta, Georgia has developed the Old 4th Ward Park, just East of downtown, to serve as stormwater retention and a public park and playground. The retention basin is large enough to capture a 500-year storm event...that's a lot of water! The park site is connected to the Atlanta Beltline, a new public greenway being developed on old rail lines that encircle the city. Find out more about the Beltline at beltline.org.
Aerial video of Atlanta and Old 4th Ward Park provided by Southeast Stock Footage.