Assessment of Watershed Protection Provisions

City of Jefferson Curry Creek Water Supply Watershed

The main water supply source for the City of Jefferson is the Curry Creek Reservoir on Curry Creek, immediately north of the city center. The Curry Creek watershed is classified as a Small Water Supply Watershed by the State of Georgia for purposes of the Georgia Planning Act (GPA). In accordance with the provisions of the GPA, the City of Jefferson passed the Curry Creek Water Supply Watershed Protection Ordinance, which among other things, stated that no more than 25% of the land area within the watershed may be covered with impervious surfaces.

The final requirement is challenging because the watershed is experiencing significant residential, commercial and institutional development, and the northern part of the watershed lies within an industrial zone. In an effort to meet the 25% limit without imposing unreasonable restrictions on any individual landowners or development class, the City of Jefferson contracted with the University of Georgia in 2003 to develop recommendations for managing development within the watershed. The resulting report (“Recommendations to Manage Growth & Protect Water Quality,” Wenger and Roskie 2003) made six recommendations:

  • An overlay zone that limits the amount of impervious cover within each parcel of the watershed based on zoning classification;
  • A conservation subdivision ordinance to provide developers with flexibility to meet the impervious limit on residential parcels;
  • The rezoning of one parcel that appears unsuitable for industrial development from industrial to residential classification;
  • Acquisition and permanent protection of at least 100 acres of land in the watershed;
  • A policy limiting rezonings within the watershed; and
  • A stormwater ordinance.

In 2007, the City of Jefferson again contracted with the River Basin Center to evaluate the success of efforts to comply with the 25% impervious surface limit and the degree to which the previous recommendations have been implemented. This project involved:

  1. An analysis of existing impervious area in the city of Jefferson within Curry Creek watershed;
  2. A projection of future impervious area at full buildout within Curry Creek watershed; and
  3. A review of the extent to which the City of Jefferson implemented the previous recommendation.

The 2007 study found that impervious surfaces covered only 3.6% of Curry Creek watershed within the City of Jefferson, but that this would increase to 24.8% on full watershed buildout. While this meets the state-mandated 25% limit, it was contingent on implementation of three recommendations:

  1. All development plans must include an estimate of impervious cover;
  2. Elimination of a confusing provision in the city’s overlay district regulations that could allow excess impervious cover in some situations;
  3. Adding a provision to the overlay district regulations requiring that the Council consider the effect of any proposed rezonings and annexations in Curry Creek Watershed on the ability of the City of Jefferson to meet the 25% impervious cover limit.


The full 2007 report may be found here

Curry Creek