What is a Watershed?

What is it?
If you live in Sandy Springs, just look down. You are standing in a watershed. A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. All areas of Sandy Spring are part of a watershed.
John Wesley Powell, scientist, geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:  “that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Why is it important?
All Sandy Springs residents live in a watershed. Watersheds are the places we call home, where we work and where we play. Everyone relies on water and other natural resources to exist. What you and others do on the land impacts the quality and quantity of water and our other natural resources.

When we all do our part to preserve our creeks, we reduce the risk of flooding and erosion in our city. Flooding and erosion can cause property and land damage that is costly in terms of dollars and time spent.

The six creeks in the City of Sandy Springs are:

• Nancy Creek, 4,567 acres
• Long Island Creek, 4,224 acres
• Heards Creek,4,130 acres
• Marsh Creek, 3,606 acres
• Sullivan Creek, 4,567 acres
• Crooked Creek, 4,342 acres

See our sampling map to see which sites are currently being sampled (red) and which sites (yellow) are in needed of a volunteer to help us sample.

Sandy Springs Map

Map of Sandy Springs Watersheds





No, storms drains should capture only water runoff. This water ends up in the Chattahoochee, not the sewer. Even though yard clippings are not “trash”, they produce phosphorus that will contribute to water pollution. 
Storm drains are meant to capture rain water and direct it to the Chattahoochee. If your street floods at all, check the mouth of your storm drains for debris. Safely remove and properly dispose of any trash, leaves or yard clippings. Communicate with your neighbors about maintaining the drains nearest their driveways to prevent flooding. 
A heavy rain storm delivers fast flowing water. Basically, velocity matters! The faster the water moves, the more risk for erosion of soil. Heavy erosion can negatively effect our creek beds.


No, it is not a good sign. Construction sites should have properly installed erosion fences and gravel entrances and exits to keep the dirt inside the site area and off the street. 
It depends. If the large pile of dirt is left there with no stabilization, there is a risk of that dirt washing away by wind or rain and into storm drains. Excessive sediment in the creeks causes scouring. Check for piles that are stabilized with hay bales or tarps. 
Scour is the process of excessive creek or river sediment moving around rapidly causing exposure of tree root systems, sewage drain pipes etc. (Imagine a brillo pad scrubbing away the soil that holds the tree up or keeps the sewer pipe in place) This causes trees to fall across creeks which creates dams and sewage pipes to lose stability and break causing leakage into the water.


Yes. If your home is by a stream, you should preserve the buffer area. Leave the area as untouched as possible. A buffer is a vegetated area (a “buffer strip”) near a stream, usually forested, which helps shade and partially protect a stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. Do not plant a lawn in a buffer. Lawns have lawnmowers with gasoline and fertilizers that can run into the water.
Yes. Try not to broadcast pesticides and fertilizers. Target the use of chemicals to specific areas or plants to minimize any negative impact.
Yes. They can be avoided by considering what loose soil will be produced and how you can keep it from washing out of your yard. Use erosion fencing until any loose soil is secured by landscape fabric, ground cover plants that have taken root or even wire mesh.