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What is Low Impact Development?

Low Impact Development (LID) is an ecologically friendly approach to site development and stormwater management that aims to mitigate development impacts to land, water, and air. The LID approach emphasizes the integration of site design and planning techniques that conserve natural systems and hydrologic functions on a site. The practice has been successfully integrated into many municipal development codes and storm water management ordinances throughout the United States. Specifically, LID aims to:

  • Preserve open space and minimize land disturbance
  • Protect natural systems and processes (drainage ways, vegetation, soils, sensitive areas)
  • Reexamine the use and sizing of traditional site infrastructure (lots, streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks) and customize site design to each site
  • Incorporate natural site elements (wetlands, stream corridors, mature forests) as design elements
  • Decentralize and manage stormwater at its source

LID Benefits

Utilizing LID techniques can offer many benefits to a variety of stakeholders:

In 2006, the GCSWCD assisted the Town of Hunter with installation of stormwater treatment practices at the Town’s highway garage.Municipalities:

  • Protect regional flora and fauna
  • Balance growth needs with environmental protection
  • Reduce municipal infrastructure and utility maintenance costs
  • Increase collaborative public/private partnerships


  • Reduce land clearing and grading costs
  • Potentially reduce infrastructure costs (streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks)
  • Reduce stormwater management costs
  • Potentially reduce impact fees and increase lot yields
  • Increase lot and community maketability


  • Preserve integrity of ecological and biological systems
  • Protect site and regional water quality by reducing sediment, nutrient, and toxic loads to water bodies
  • Reduce impacts to local terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals
  • Preserve trees and natural vegetation

Structural Low Impact Development Practices

Planners select structural LID practices for an individual site in consideration of the site's land use, hydrology, soil type, climate, and rainfall patterns. Frequently-used practices include:

stormwater-wetlandStormwater Wetlands
Stormwater wetlands can be used to treat large areas and are often selected as a stormwater management practice because of their ability to remove excess nutrients and suspended solids from stormwater runoff. Stormwater wetlands provide similar habitat to natural wetlands. Wetlands are home to a variety insects and amphibians, many of which feed on mosquitoes and mosquito larvae.

Raingardens are an ideal method of treating stormwater on-site in urbanized settings. Raingardens are depressions in the ground that consist of loose, deep soils and are planted with colorful native vegetation.

perm-pavement-installationPermeable Pavement
Unlike traditional pavement, permeable pavement allows rainwater to move vertically, down through the parking surface and into the underlying soils.

Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove pollution from surface runoff water. The bioswale filters sheet flow from the porous pavement system during excessive rainfall events and also provide a snow storage area with treatment capacity.

ulstersavings-rain-barrelRain Barrels
Rain barrels are water tanks which are used to collect and store rain water runoff, typically from rooftops via rain gutters. Storing this water reduces stormwater runoff, and also provides a free source of water that can be used for watering gardens, washing cars, flushing toilets, and doing laundry.

Additional Resources

Online Seminars, Training, and Webcasts on Stormwater and LID

Additional Resources on Stormwater and LID