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Our Watershed

West Atlanta Watershed


A watershed is an area of land that drains into a particular stream or waterway. Each watershed is characterized by its own drainage network.  Like the branches of a tree, stream channels link together, with each draining into a larger waterway to form a network.

The West Atlanta Watershed is  the area within metro Atlanta that drains into the Chattahoochee River and continues into the Gulf of Mexico.  The total West Atlanta Watershed includes a total of five sub watershed basins:  Proctor, Utoy, Sandy, Peachtree, and Nancy.  These creeks are tributaries of the Chattahoochee River. The work of WAWA covers Proctor, Utoy, and Sandy Creek Watersheds.  Collectively, these watersheds are impacted by two combined sewer overflows, 11 landfills, and four Super fund sites.


Proctor Creek

Proctor Creek

Proctor Creek is a highly urbanized, degraded stream that traverses the northwest portion of the City of Atlanta.  It suffers from large impervious areas, eroded stream banks, and combined sewer overflows.  Proctor Creek runs 7.8 miles in length and the watershed area covers 15.76 square miles or 10,094 acres.

Utoy Creek

Utoy Creek

The Utoy Creek Basin is located in the Southern portion of the West Atlanta Watershed.  Utoy Creek runs 26 miles in length and the watershed area covers 34.43 square miles or 22,025 acres.

Sandy Creek

Sandy Creek

The Sandy Creek Basin is located in the southwestern portion of the West Atlanta Watershed.  Sandy Creek runs 4.9 miles in length and the watershed covers over 524 square miles or 3.294 acres.



The West Atlanta Watershed Alliance is the official steward of three nature preserves in the Southwest Atlanta area:  The Outdoor Activity Center, Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, and the Lionel Hampton Beecher Preserve.

The Outdoor Activity Center



Established in 1975 as the Bush Mountain Outdoor Activity Center, the initial purpose of the Outdoor Activity Center (OAC) was to involve children and adults in environmental issues through education about conservation, ecology and the natural environment.


Located approximately five miles from downtown Atlanta, this 26-acre urban nature preserve includes about 2.0 miles of trails, as well as a team-building ropes course, and a children’s nature themed playground. Among the learning facilities are a tree house classroom, a 650-gallon freshwater aquarium, and a multi-purpose building. Adjacent to the facility is a community-run vegetable garden and a practice lot for the Atlanta Black Crackers, a former Negro League baseball team and a unique sustainable urban farming system, Bioponica.


OAC is located approximately 5 miles from downtown Atlanta, at 1442 Richland Road, Atlanta, GA 30310. The site has been integral to the Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools Systems.


WAWA’s environmental education programs at the OAC engage local youth, ranging from elementary to college age in service learning activities field trips and interpretive hikes throughout the 26 acre old growth forest, seeking to impact the visitor’s attitudes and behaviors about nature.


The programs complements classroom learning in math, science, social studies, history and language arts through interactive, interdisciplinary activities, independent observation, exploration, and free play. Programs are correlated to Georgia Performance Standards. Participants  learn about the importance of their role as stewards of a healthy and sustainable environment.

14680579126_b0f9365fd3_zCascade Springs Nature Preserve


The Cascade Springs Nature Preserve is located at 2852 Cascade Road SW, Atlanta, GA 30311 (at intersection of Veltre Circle). This beautiful 135-acre green oasis inside of I-285 contains portions of Turkeyfoot Creek, which forms cascading waterfalls on the property, and South Utoy Creek.  Natural springs on the site were classified in 1913 by the GA State Geological Survey as containing potentially health-beneficial minerals, including silica, carbon dioxide, lime, potassium chloride, sodium sulphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate.


Used for Confederate defenses during the Civil War Battle for Atlanta’s Battle of Utoy Creek on August 6, 1864, the property contains remains of Confederate trenches and rifle pits.


Cascade Spring Water was bottled and sold in the early 20th century until its distribution ceased permanently in the early 1950’s.


It became City of Atlanta park land in 1979.


WAWA opens and closes Cascade Springs Nature Preserve on the weekends to provide access to the public.

Lionel Hampton-Beecher Preserve


lionelOne of WAWA’s proudest moments is when we led the charge to acquire the Lionel Hampton Beecher Preserve in 2002.  The Lionel Hampton tract is an approximately 102-acre undeveloped property of mature vegetation. Located on North Utoy Creek in southwest Atlanta, the property contains significant ecological, recreational, and historical relics. The tract is comprised of mature hardwood forest with a tributary that converges with North Utoy Creek. The property is adjacent to the PATH Foundation Lionel Hampton Trail, which runs north-south along the property’s eastern boundary. The PATH Foundation Lionel Hampton Trail is a paved multi-use pedestrian path with earthworks (trenches and fortifications) used by Union troops in the Battles of Ezra Church and Utoy Creek during the Civil War. Civil War Commission historical experts reference these fortifications as well preserved and intact due to the fact that the property has only been minimally developed.