Transportation and Urban Stream Health in Athens, GA

By Zach Keung

Photography: Zach Keung & Capps Lab

Stormwater runoff from transportation infrastructure is one of the greatest environmental threats to urban streams and rivers. The high volume of traffic in an urban environment like Athens, GA, contributes a significant volume of pollutants that can disrupt ecological processes in rivers and streams.

Traditional stormwater drainage rapidly conveys runoff to streams and rivers, leading to altered aquatic communities and impaired water quality. Automobile-related pollution sources include tire particles, brake pads, and leaking oil and gas. Runoff from transportation sources can contain a collection of harmful materials including heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and microplastics.

River Basin Center researchers frequently partner with Athens-Clarke County, which has active programs to manage stormwater runoff, intercept waste inputs (such as with the in-stream trash collector shown above), and reduce other threats to the city’s rivers and streams.

Photo Credit: Capps Lab

River Basin Center affiliates, like Dr. Krista Capps and Dr. Amy Rosemond, are actively conducting interdisciplinary urban stream research to better understand stressors on urban waterways in Athens.

For further reading:

Athens-Clarke County Stormwater Management

Capps Lab

Rosemond Lab