Land development can have severe adverse stormwater impacts, particularly if the land is converted from woods, meadow, or other natural condition to a highly disturbed area with large percentages of impervious and non-native vegetated covers. Such impacts typically include an increase in stormwater runoff volume, rate, velocity, and pollutants and a corresponding decrease in the quality of runoff and stream flow.
Historically, stormwater management practices have focused on collecting and conveying the runoff from the entire site through a structural conveyance system to a centralized facility (e.g., detention basin, wet pond) where it is stored and treated prior to discharge downstream.
Green infrastructure or Low impact development (LID) refers to methods of sustainable stormwater management that focus on reducing runoff and improving water quality. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), LID practices help maintain natural hydrologic cycles through site grading, vegetation, soils, and natural processes that absorb and filter stormwater onsite. These sustainable stormwater management tools help minimize erosion, flooding, and water pollution downstream from facilities where they are used.
Some examples of green infrastructure and LID practices for sustainable reduction of stormwater runoff and pollution include:
· Green Roofs
· Rain Barrels and Cisterns
· Permeable Pavements
· Bioretention Areas
· Vegetated Swales/Dry Swales
· Curb and Gutter Elimination
· Vegetated Filter Strips
· Sand and Organic Filters
· Constructed Wetlands
· Riparian Buffers
There are 5 core requirements when it comes to designing for LID:
· Conserve natural areas wherever possible (do not pave the whole site if you do not need to).
· Minimize the development impact on hydrology.
· Maintain runoff rate and duration from the site (do not let the water leave the site).
· Scatter decentralized, microscale controls across the site that infiltrate, store, evaporate, and/or detain runoff close to the source.
· Implement pollution prevention, proper maintenance, and public education programs.
In short, designing in sustainable stormwater management (i.e., green infrastructure or LIDs) make use engineered or natural systems to mimic natural processes and pre‐development conditions.
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