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Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID)

... absorbs rainwater, protects water quality, minimizes flooding

What is Low Impact Development?

There is a changing trend in land development and storm water management throughout the United States. It has been called many things, including smart growth, conservation development, and low impact development (LID).

LID is an alternative, ecologically-sensitive design that mimics the way natural areas store and infiltrate rainwater. The LID approach protects local and regional water quality by decentralizing storm water management and absorbing rainfall throughout the landscape.

Low impact development minimizes the amount of impervious surfaces and mitigates the impact of necessary impervious surfaces. There are a variety of conservation practices that work together to mitigate these effects, such as pervious paving, rain gardens, bioretention cells, bioswales, native landscaping, and soil quality restoration.

Photo of bioretention cell.
A bioretention cell manages runoff from the imperviousness of a commercial parking lot. A bioretention cell is a low impact development practice because it allows rainwater to infiltrate, minimizes flooding and protects water quality.

Photo of Northern Plains Resource council parking lot. Close-up photo of recycled plastic rings and glass cullet used in parking lot.
The parking lot of the Northern Plains Resource Council building in Billings, Montana consists of a grid of rings (recycled plastic) over a geotextile fabric that holds the small gravels in place. 100 percent recycled glass cullet was used instead of gravel in the top layer.