Some homeowners in Low-Impact Development communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are asking questions such as:

  • Why don’t we petition our local authorities to put in curbs and gutters so our community is more like a traditional subdivision?
  • How could our local government permit a LID subdivision like this to be built?
  • Why did my local government not protect me from buying a house in a LID subdivision?
  • Why do the backyards in this LID subdivision periodically flood?

As LID communities become more numerous, there is beginning to be some consumer push back and resistance to the engineering aspects of the designs. The general public is not aware of the differences that LID brings, nor of its benefits.

LID has emerged over the past few years as a highly effective and attractive approach to controlling stormwater pollution while protecting developing watersheds and already urbanized communities throughout the Bay watershed.

It stands apart from other approaches through its emphasis on cost-effective, lot-level strategies that replicate predevelopment hydrology and reduce the impacts of development. By addressing runoff close to the source, LID can enhance the local environment and protect public health while saving developers and local government money.

LID is different from conventional engineering. Instead of large investments in complex and costly engineering strategies for stormwater management, its strategies integrate green space, native landscaping, natural hydrologic functions and various other techniques to generate less runoff from developed land.

It costs less than conventional stormwater management systems to install and maintain, in part, because of fewer pipe and below-ground infrastructure requirements. But the benefits do not stop here. The associated vegetation also offers human “quality of life” opportunities by greening the neighborhood, and thus contributes to livability, value, sense of place, and aesthetics.

The principles of LID are:

  • integrate stormwater management early in site planning activities;
  • use natural hydrologic functions as the integrating framework;
  • focus on prevention rather than mitigation;
  • emphasize simple, nonstructural, low-tech and low-cost methods;
  • manage as close to the source as possible;
  • distribute small-scale practices throughout the landscape;
  • rely on natural features and processes; and
  • create a multifunctional landscape.

The public needs to be better introduced to LID and be aware of it as an option when purchasing a new home. If the public knows of the benefits of LID as well as the differences it presents to them as homeowners, wiser consumer decisions will be made.

In addition, as the general public becomes more familiar with LID, there is less of an opportunity for a groundswell of opposition to arise to LID developments. A massive public information campaign is needed to prepare the home-buying public for the environmentally and economic advantages available in a LID subdivision.

This is another area where local government, developers, Realtors and the environmental community can work hand-in-hand to help finish the job of Bay restoration.