Atlanta's Environmental Issues Persist

Despite improvements including The Belt Line and the Silver Comet Trail, two long nature paths supported by various organizations, Atlanta’s environmental issues persist. From air quality to drought concerns, the sprawling metropolis is under pressure to act before it is too late. Here are some of the Georgia capital’s pressing environmental concerns:


Atlanta’s crowded highways, including I-85, I-75, and I-285, create high levels of ozone and smog. According to CBS News:

“Atlanta has one of the highest levels of air pollutants because of congestion, its landlocked geography and heat.”

Atlanta’s air quality has improved over the past few years, but there is still room for progress. One solution would be to expand Atlanta’s mass-transit rail system, MARTA, which is far less extensive than those of Boston and Chicago.


Atlanta suffered from droughts in Spring 2017 and Fall-Summer 2007, among other years. The city is heavily dependent upon Lake Lanier, which lies to the north. The lack of diversification in water sources means that a season of low rainfall can drastically effect supply. Atlanta has a plan for watershed management but continued development and increasing population mean more office buildings, factories, construction projects, and homes are consuming a fairly finite resource. In the past, severe droughts have even led to an increased risk of wildfires.


Parts of Atlanta’s sewer system are over eighty years old, and new leaks and inadequacies are often reported. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Atlanta’s NPR station:

“Our water infrastructure is in sort of serious need of consistent and larger investment moving forward.”

In the past, raw sewage has run into the Chattahoochee River, as well as parks in different neighborhoods. The city has spent over a billion dollars on sewer infrastructure but, despite improvements, more organization and vigilance are needed.


Progress has been made in Atlanta over the past five years as grassroots efforts have grown and new residents from other states have brought fresh ideas. Many local politicians from both major parties support environmental measures. Hopefully state representatives from districts outside of Atlanta will recognize the need for more state funding of projects that help Georgia’s natural environment.

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