By Amy Wenk

The six watersheds in Sandy Springs have united.

On Oct. 19 the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs held its first meeting as a citywide water advocacy group (

Formerly called the Long Island Creek Watershed Preservation Association, the nonprofit now also serves Crooked, Heards, Marsh, Nancy and Sullivan creeks.

Watersheds are natural areas of land that drain to a stream, according to Sally Bethea, executive director of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the evening’s speaker. Her presentation focused on the water problems in the metro area and their impact on future growth.

“Every place on earth is part of a watershed,” she said. The problem is that Atlanta has less land to capture water than cities like Charlotte, N.C., which has six times more watershed per person.

Add increased demand for water from growing populations, and dwindling supply at times due to low rainfall, wasteful consumers and leaking systems, and it is no wonder water is a stressed resource in Atlanta.

“We have a long-term water crisis here in metro Atlanta,” Bethea said. “We have too much to lose … We have to act now” because creek health will determine the community’s future.

The new alliance will work to improve and maintain the watersheds through education and monitoring, as well as by stressing conservation and responsible development.

Through grants and gifts, the alliance has obtained a portable water monitoring station and a night vision camera to monitor animal activity at the creeks. Some members are certified monitors and will soon conduct tests at the streams.

Government, business owners and residents can do their part, Bethea said, by practicing energy and water conserving measures. For example, one out of every five gallons of water is lost due to system leaks, and around 20 to 25 percent of the city’s drinking water is expelled onto yards. Installing water-efficient appliances like low-flow toilets, restricting watering outdoors or conducting a home or business energy audit are small actions that add up, Bethea said.

The alliance hopes to bring attention to water quality and conservation, because as Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.”