Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is defined as “an innovative land planning and design approach which seeks to maintain a site’s pre-development ecological and hydrological function through the protection, enhancement, or mimicry of natural processes.” There are many reasons to use LID, but stormwater management is a primary one.

Many of the developed properties we see today were designed with limited regard for the landscape’s natural features or hydrology. Excessively wide roads and expansive parking lots, curbs and catch basins, fragmented forest blocks, and straightened stream channels are fairly common occurrences throughout the landscape. This is not surprising, as traditional development focuses on maximizing the land area available for active human use. Unfortunately, such development typically brings with it a variety of problems including but not limited to decreased infiltration, lower evaporation and transpiration rates, and increased surface runoff.

LID practitioners recognize and value the critical functions and benefits that the natural landscape provides and ensures that those functions are balanced with active human use through sustainable planning and design through an extensive site assessment of hydrology, topography, soils, vegetation and water features, the planner/designer is better able to place structures and site elements to minimize potential impacts. The end result is a development that balances human benefit with environmental function. Such developments often have higher aesthetic and recreational value and thus lead to increased land and home values.

Low Impact Development Principles

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites