Water Equity Clearinghouse

West Atlanta Watershed Alliance

West Atlanta, GA

The West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA) is a nonprofit, community led organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for neighborhoods in the West Atlanta Watershed. The organization has a clear focus on environmental justice, as these neighborhoods are the most burdened by environmental stressors, but are least consulted in decision making processes. WAWA is changing this through partnerships with city agencies, greenspace creation, and stormwater management.

The organization was created out of a need to halt discriminatory wastewater treatment practices in West Atlanta. Since then, WAWA has been working to protect greenspace and water quality in West Atlanta while mobilizing and educating residents about the environmental challenges their communities face.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

WAWA’s successes include the creation of several parks that provide recreational opportunities, stormwater management services, and overall increase in quality of life for residents. Even before partnering with city agencies, WAWA was successful in preserving 400 acres of greenspace from development and raising two million dollars in support. However, WAWA recognizes that city partnerships can be beneficial to community led initiatives, and since partnering with the City of Atlanta Bureau of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, has begun operating a 26-acre urban forest preserve and nature center called the Outdoor Activity Center. In addition, the organization is the steward of the 135-acre Cascade Springs Nature Preserve and the 200-acre Lionel Hampton Beecher Park. These greenspaces are critical in preventing the combined sewer overflows that impact West Atlanta watersheds.

WAWA is not only a protector of greenspace, but a protector of their “blue spaces” as well. WAWA protects the Proctor, Utoy, and Sandy Creek watersheds that have previously been impacted by two combined sewer overflows, 11 landfills, and four Superfund sites. These watersheds feed into the Chattahoochee River, which then continues into the Gulf of Mexico. Protecting these spaces in critical in protecting West Atlanta’s watershed health, and subsequently the health of its communities.