The South Fork Conservancy recently celebrated the installation of an innovative rainwater retention system

The South Fork Conservancy recently celebrated the installation of an innovative rainwater retention system that will feed the Nickel Bottom urban garden, located at DeKalb’s Zonolite Park.

The event honored The Coca-Cola Company, which funded the rainwater system and design of the urban garden through a $25,000 grant to the South Fork Conservancy and its community partners. Guests included representatives from the City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability and DeKalb County, who dined at picnic tables alongside the new garden while Coca-Cola officials led a workshop on building rain barrels out of repurposed 55-gallon Coca-Cola syrup barrels.

City of Atlanta Director of Urban Agriculture Mario Cambardella, Coca-Cola ecologist Rena Ann Stricker, City of Atlanta Chief Sustainability Officer John Seydel, South Fork Conservancy board member and NewFields Chairman Billy Hall“A thriving watershed is critical to every community we serve and to our business. That is why The Coca-Cola Company places a priority on water stewardship and is working to do our part to conserve, restore and replenish our water supplies, including the South Fork of Peachtree Creek which is a main tributary of the Chattahoochee River Watershed system,” said Jon Radtke, Director, Sustainability, Coca-Cola North America.

The new rainwater harvesting system supports the group’s efforts to renew and refresh Zonolite Park. The park was once an asbestos-tainted industrial site that has since been cleaned and restored to an urban meadow and green space with help from the EPA and DeKalb County.

This innovative rainwater retention system will collect rainwater runoff from 9,200 square feet of rooftops on the adjacent Floataway development, a collection of small businesses and offices near Emory University. This water will go through an industrial filter and be stored in a 3,470-gallon cistern. The water will then be used to irrigate 6,000 square feet of green space in Zonolite Park including an orchard, several raised planting beds and a community garden.

The park’s design includes a bioswale where additional storm water is retained. Backup water will be drawn from Floataway Creek, making the project totally off the grid for water use.

“This system is critical because storms in Atlanta often pound rooftops and rush off quickly, causing flooding and scouring creek banks. Now, this rainwater can work through the soil of the gardens and meadow and filter naturally and slowly into our creeks,” said South Fork Conservancy board member Sally Sears.

“We’re so grateful to The Coca-Cola Company for this gift, and can’t wait to keep working with them to preserve the creeks and waterways of our city,” added Sears.

Coca-Cola team leads a rain barrel workshop

South Fork Conservancy board member and NewFields Chairman Billy Hall presents a plaque to John Radtke, the Director of Coca-Cola's Water Sustainability Program

South Fork Conservancy board member and NewFields Chairman Billy Hall speaks to the group