Millions of Georgians depend on the state's rivers as their source of drinking water. Frequent droughts and a growing population has left Georgia increasingly vulnerable to the potential for a water shortage crisis.

With only a three-day supply of drinking water on reserve, the city of Atlanta realized that it needed a solution to avoid catastrophic shortages in the event of a drought. The solution? Sourcing drinking water from Westside Park, the largest green space in Atlanta. The 280-acre park welcomes those living in Atlanta’s suburbs with bike trails, pavilions and playgrounds.  It also houses Atlanta’s 2.4-billion gallon emergency water supply; enough for 90 days of water. 

The opening last summer of Westside Park and the implementation of an emergency water supply system was made possible through the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, a non-profit organization that raises funds to support an expansive, 22-mile and 45-neighborhood sustainable economic development and transportation project encircling the city of Atlanta. The partnership helped raise private donations to support the $44 million project, along with funding from Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) dollars and groups such as the city of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management and the city of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Coca-Cola Foundation, based in Atlanta, stepped up and donated $2 million to support water infrastructure in the park. The donation is part of the Foundation’s larger $15 million initiative to support local environmental and community initiatives throughout the United States and Canada. The donation will also support future upgrades to improve stormwater management at another metro-Atlanta park, Enota Park. 

This a strong example of how private-public partnerships can work together to develop a solution to a community’s challenge.

“This is how you make sure that you develop a city that can sustain itself in an emergency situation but do it in a way that makes it accessible and beautiful for leisure and education for its residents,” Atlanta City Council Post 3 at-Large Councilman Andre Dickens said at an event celebrating Westside Park’s opening.

Learn more about how to support a more sustainable future for Atlanta here