Low Impact Development

The first hour of urban stormwater runoff generally has a pollution index greater than that of raw sewage. Low Impact Development (LID) is an ecological stormwater management approach modeled after nature: manage rainfall locally through a vegetated treatment network that keeps water onsite. The goal of LID is to sustain a site’s predevelopment hydrologic regime by using techniques that infiltrate, filter, store, and evaporate stormwater runoff close to its source.

Civil engineering’s traditional plumbing offers no ecological services beyond storage, essentially transferring water pollution elsewhere. Indeed, the developed world’s answer to waste and pollution has been to move it around. Conventional pipe-and-pond conveyance infrastructure channels runoff through pipes, catchment basins, and curbs and gutters to a single point.

LID metabolizes nonpoint source pollution from runoff, remediating its deleterious impacts on soil quality and watershed health through distributed treatment landscapes. These treatment landscapes function through a contiguous network of sediment filters, tree box filters, rainwater gardens, bioswales, infiltration basins, and wet meadows to enhance water quality. LID recovers water quality through feedback and self-organizing processes in designed landscapes, presenting a place-bound technology embedded in local climate, soil, plant, and animal communities. LID solutions propose parks, not pipes!

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