Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Milton's stream buffers: What exactly are they?

Courtesy Carter Lucas / Appen Newspapers

November 30, 2009 Milton — Anyone familiar with things at City Hall has likely heard council, volunteers and planners talk about "stream buffers" in the course of normal business. But what exactly are they?

Stream buffers are those vegetated strips of land along the banks of our streams, lakes and rivers. There have been numerous scientific studies conducted evaluating the effectiveness of these buffers and their impact on surface water quality.

The findings of these studies indicate they have the following benefits:• Stabilize stream banks and reduce channel erosion• Trap and remove contaminants• Store flood waters, thereby reducing property damage• Improve aesthetics• Improve recreational and educational opportunities in local area• Reduce sedimentation of our lakes and streams• Improve aquatic life • Provide habitat for wildlife (also reduce undesirable species, such as geese)

In Georgia, buffers are required along all perennial (normally flowing) and intermittent (flowing during wet seasons) streams, as well as ephemeral features (those that only flow after rainfall) that drain into trout streams.

In non-trout streams like those in Milton, the state requires a minimum 25-foot vegetated buffer extending from the stream bank or the point of wrested vegetation.

However, in the city of Milton these state standards have been extended to require a minimum 50-foot buffer with a 75-foot setback for any impervious surfaces.

These requirements can obviously be a source of conflict between regulatory authorities and those attempting to develop property.

Despite the ongoing debates regarding the necessary width and extent of stream buffers, there is no denying the basic benefits derived from these natural features.

One only needs to compare the waterways we find in nature to those we find in our urban centers to see the difference. Fortunately, at this point, the city of Milton's stream buffers are largely undisturbed.

In order to preserve these valuable resources, we need to continue our efforts to educate the public about their benefits.

Carter Lucas is Milton's principal engineer and interim head of its Public Works Department. He can be reached at 678-242-2500.


Anonymous said...

Tom Wilson has allowed N. Valley to cut and mow in the buffer on Chicken Creek, way to go Tom!! What happened to protecting our stream buffers?? Something slipped through the cracks on that one, maybe Carter Lucas can reopen the case and take another look at the distruction they are doing over there so the residents can walk along the creek bank, what is more important, the buffers or exercise that people can get and do anywhere? What if everyone was cutting and mowing along the stream buffers, then what Tom??

Anonymous said...

Find something else to do Carol and Francine.

Watch JZB quote this article in the future.

Anonymous said...

She disturbs her own stream beds.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I am not Carol or Francine, don't know them, just happened to hear of this issue from someone who has a friend who lives in N. Valley who told me about this over coffee one morning. You must know of this issue, but disagree obviously. Why is okay for the residents to cut/mow the buffer on the creek in N. Valley, because they've been doing it for a while and no one caught them or stopped them prior? They were also spraying herbicides, or paid their landscapers to do it, from what I hear, but were told to stop doing that at least by Wilson and some attorney. This needs looking into further.

Anonymous said...

If you have horses. The rain wash what they leave behind in the pastures straight into the streams.

Anonymous said...

And that's why we need buffers don't you think? We need a stream and waterway committee.

Anonymous said...

Like the horse is going to say, Gee, I can use the restroom within the buffer????? LMAO