Low Impact Development

The key premise of low impact development (LID) is to allow natural systems to manage stormwater when and wherever possible.  LID takes advantage of existing natural features and also designs and constructs systems to imitate natural processes, for example, green roofs, bioretention gardens, and permeable pavement.  Historically, stormwater management meant stormwater disposal.  With LID, stormwater is managed as a resource rather than a liability.  LID's goal is to mimic a site's natural capability to handle stormwater by using design techniques that infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff close to its source.  LID was pioneered in Maryland in 1985 to address economic and environmental issues associated with water quality concerns in Chesapeake Bay. Since then, the concept of LID has been implemented to varying degrees nationwide.  Projects in Nebraska and the region are being designed and installed in growing numbers as the concept becomes more accepted.

Low impact development helps manage both stormwater quality and quantity.

  • Quantity concerns include flooding and property damage, damage to stream channels, lower stream base flows, and less groundwater recharge.
  • Water quality concerns arise when stormwater runoff collects sediments, nutrients, acids and salts, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and pathogens. Increased water temperature is also a major water quality concern.

LID is effective. It results in landscapes that generate less surface runoff, less pollution, less erosion, and less overall damage to lakes, streams and coastal waters.

LID can be economical. It can cost less to construct and maintain than conventional stormwater management systems while enhancing environmental quality and quality of life.

LID is flexible. It offers a wide variety of techniques to provide for both runoff quality and quantity benefits.

LID is a balanced approach. LID is ecologically-based land development that seeks to better integrate the built environment with the natural environment.

What LID Looks Like

The most common examples of Low Impact Development are rain gardens, bioretention gardens, bioswales, pervious pavement, green roofs, and rain harvesting. 

Add your project to the LID Atlas

Also see examples of LID from across the United States. 

Information presented within the Stormwater Management section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Stormwater Management Team members Kelly Feehan, Thomas Franti, Steven Rodie and Richard Sutton.

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