In the drought-prevalent Atlanta area, where the primary water supply of Lake Lanier has been known to drop to only three months of available storage during extreme droughts, the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) has distinguished itself by securing a long-term water supply for residents and businesses. The authority has created a Total Water Management (TWM) plan that resulted in sustainable supplies and a healthier ecosystem.

Working with Denver-based CH2M HILL, CCWA started on the master plan in 2005. Officials assessed current and future regulations on potable water, wastewater, stormwater and water reuse, and analyzed population projections and consumption per account as well as treatment and supply alternatives. Based on their findings, CCWA officials decided to apply treated wastewater to wetlands they would construct rather than applying the effluent to land. The 375-acre constructed wetlands, which will be completed in 2012, will return treated wastewater into CCWA's surface water supply reservoirs, improving effluent quality and increasing reservoir capacity.

CCWA also installed ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technology at three water production plants to improve pathogen removal. And, the authority assumed responsibility for stormwater and watershed management to ensure compliance with stormwater permits for the county and six cities in the area. That allowed CCWA to better manage water quality conditions in its watersheds and become the “one-stop-shop” for water resource management in the county.

CCWA developed a list of operational improvements for the entire system, such as establishing a stormwater utility to support the watershed and stormwater management programs, and developing a capital improvement plan and financial plan for infrastructure improvements at its water and wastewater treatment facilities. The stormwater utility was implemented last year and will generate approximately $8 million annually, based on a single-family residential rate of $3.75 per month.

Clayton County's TWM plan was tested last summer when water levels in metropolitan Atlanta were at record low levels. Although most of the Atlanta area faced water restrictions, CCWA maintained a water supply at nearly full pool levels throughout the drought and did not compromise water quality. “TWM enabled us to maximize our limited water supply and maintain compliance with increasingly stringent federal and state regulations, while achieving customer service expectations at a reasonable cost to our customers,” says CCWA General Manager Mike Thomas.

Total Water Management Plan

Clayton County, Ga.

Clayton County Water Authority

Denver-based CH2M HILL

Date completed:

$200 million