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Streams & Stream Buffer Protection


There are streams (and springs) that run throughout the City of Austell. These waterways are a part of the natural infrastructure of our City and State’s water supply and storm water management system. The City and the State have designated areas of buffers near these waterways to minimize bank erosion and stream/water quality degradation.

Determining State Waters/Stream Buffers:

The City of Austell has staff who can determine whether a stream is a "State water" and if a stream buffer is required.  State waters are defined by the presence of wrested vegetation – a stream that has created dirt/rock creek bottom, and that typically have continuous flow.

Buffer and Setback Requirements:

Once a State water has been established, all land development activity subject to Stream Buffer Protection Ordinance shall meet the following requirements: 

  1.  25-foot State-regulated buffer is observed, followed by
  2. An undisturbed natural vegetative buffer shall be maintained for 50 feet, measured horizontally, on both banks (as applicable) of the stream as measured from the top of the stream bank.
  3. An additional setback shall be maintained for 25 feet, measured horizontally, beyond the undisturbed natural vegetative buffer, in which all impervious cover shall be prohibited.  Grading, filling and earthmoving shall be minimized within the setback. 
  4. No septic tanks or septic tank drain fields shall be permitted within the buffer or the setback. 

Any land use changes encroaching on these buffers such as decks, patios and/or walkways, requires a variance from the City’s Community Development Department.