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Decatur Diary | October 2, 2018

Capacity Crowd Talks Stormwater: Join the conversation now

As if on cue, an epic downpour welcomed participants to last week’s kick-off meeting for Decatur’s forthcoming Stormwater Master Plan, as nearly a hundred people turned out to discuss stormwater management, help identify problem areas throughout the city, and chart pathways to long-term solutions.

Launching the proceedings, a presentation by city staff and the AECOM-led consultant team helped set expectations for both the evening and the process overall. First order of business? What’s this process actually about?

As a planning initiative, said presenters, the stormwater effort is primarily focused on the future — long-term planning for the infrastructure, regulations, and other efforts needed to ensure Decatur’s ability to responsibly manage stormwater in the coming decades.

Nonetheless, consideration of the present must remain equally top of mind.

A balance of short-term priorities is needed, they noted, to acknowledge the on-the-ground issues many in the crowd came to discuss — from flooding occurring on their own property to stormwater issues on their street or around their neighborhood.

Understanding such issues, the team stressed, constitutes a large part of what they’re working to accomplish. Contrary to wanting to diminish such existing frustrations, presenters detailed how mapping problem areas, and finding associated patterns, was exactly the data needed to begin solving existing problems.

Follow-up discussions then dove into an array of topics, like opportunities for neighborhood cooperative efforts, general creek maintenance, and property specific drainage issues.

The Conversation Begins

Following a brief presentation on the city’s stormwater efforts to date, as well as various types of infrastructure approaches to be considered moving forward, the meeting transitioned to an open house format of various stations in which participants could talk one-on-one with city and consultant staff and provide ground-level insights into current performance issues emerging during heavy rains.

Among the most popular was the “Stormwater in my Neighborhood” station which allowed participants to identify existing problems by placing sticky-notes on a large format map. Such field research is exactly the data required at this stage in the process, as it helps the project team recognize cause/effect relationships and similar issues.

To ensure such insights are not limited to those who attended the meeting, an interactive wikimap has been created to collect additional input. All residents are encouraged to log in and identify problem sites.

Furthermore, residents can upload photo evidence as well. In the comments section below, describe the location and details associated with a submitted picture, then press the “Upload Images” icon in the bottom left hand corner of the comment field to choose your photo.

Next Steps

Beyond these opportunities to contribute online, our next opportunity to come out in person will be a walking tour in Oakhurst to review examples of both stormwater challenges and successful mitigation efforts. Stay tuned for more details but save the date now:

Thursday, October 18, 8-10am
Meet in Oakhurst Park or, in the event
of bad weather, at 2635 Talley Street

Until then, below are photos from the kick-off meeting.

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