May 22, 2017
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Low Impact Development – protecting water quality

By: Craig Scott
March 3, 2017

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique

And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got

'Till it's gone

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

- Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”


By Craig Scott

Have you noticed new landscape designs around parking lots and other new developments?

Development of land typically increases the hard surfaces of a site. Low Impact Development, or LID, is a design strategy that has the goal of mimicking the hydrologic functions of the land before it’s development. Small-scale, permanent, planted LID features capture and treat the storm water as it would have been pre-development. The result is equivalent or improved quality of storm water runoff at the site even after redevelopment.

Low Impact Development features include vegetated swales, rain gardens, bioretention areas, and many more. Benefits include:

• Preventing trash and debris from flowing into our creeks and rivers.

• Treating pollutants and protecting water quality.

• Reducing high flows which cause erosion and flooding.

• Recharging our groundwater basin.

Low Impact Development is a requirement for many development projects in the Russian River watershed. Designers, engineers, architects and builders can download the Low Impact Development Technical Design Manual at www.rrwatershed.org/project/low-impact-development.

The next time you park your car, look around the parking lot and see if it has any Low Impact Development features. You can also learn more about Low Impact Development on www.rrwatershed.org’s Project page for Low Impact Design.


This article was authored by Craig Scott, of the City of Cotati, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA (www.rrwatershed.org) is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.