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Rampant pollution in Piedmont Park’s lake spurs community cleanups

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Officials say Lake Clara Meer is experiencing the worst trash problem in recent history

A photo of staycation hotspot Midtown reflected in Lake Clara Meer, Piedmont Park.
With millions of dollars set to expand the already massive park, some wonder why upkeep is lacking.
Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta

As Atlanta’s population swells by the day, it’s not surprising that the city might sometimes appear a bit more cluttered and even messy.

After all, more people generally means more trash.

But at Lake Clara Meer, in Midtown’s iconic Piedmont Park, the pollution problem seems to have escalated disproportionately, leaving some wondering what’s being done to keep it clean, according to a recent investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In theory, Estate Management Services, a contractor hired by the City of Atlanta, shows up once every other week to clean up the lake by picking up trash and working to reduce algae blooms.

However, as the paper reported, it’s unclear when exactly the contractor comes and what it’s doing when there.

Officials with the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a donor-funded group that helps the city maintain the 185-acre green space, said, as far as pollution goes, this year has been the worst in recent memory.

This trash problem, of course, does not bode well for the park that’s become famous for massive, crowd-wooing events, such as Music Midtown, Atlanta Pride, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, among others. (And those events, in turn, are contributors to detritus issues).

Although Estate Management Services is tasked with regular maintenance, the conservancy also runs an annual lake cleanup.

Typically, that entails help from the conservancy’s staff and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

This year, in November, however, the gravity of the trash problem in the lake has warranted the conservancy to recruit help from local volunteers.

During its October cleanup, Estate Management Services scooped up three bags of floating trash in the lake, according to the AJC.

When the conservancy and volunteers showed up the next month, they collected six full bags of waste from the lake and its banks.

The conservancy recently created an online portal where people can file complaints about park maintenance.

Complaints of trash and excessive algae in the lake have been the most prevalent, as of late, according the AJC.

Thankfully, a $30,000 grant from Coca-Cola helped the conservancy install 25 new recycling cans around the park this month, which could help curb the litter problem.

Piedmont Park

400 Park Drive Northeast, , GA 30306 (404) 875-7275 Visit Website