Landscaping for water quality: the LID approach

Low Impact Design (LID) practices offer individuals, businesses and communities ways to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water quality.

Michigan’s 3,126 miles of fresh water coastline, 36,000 miles of streams and more than 11,000 lakes provide residents and visitors with a safe supply of water for drinking, recreation and economic development. Stormwater runoff results in a number of impairments to these water resources.

Water moves through the earth’s system where precipitation falls to the land, soaks in, runs off or evaporates back into the atmosphere. This movement is known as the water cycle. In natural areas, most precipitation either soaks in or evaporates back into the atmosphere. A very small amount becomes stormwater runoff. Increases in land development change the water cycle resulting in much less soaking in and much more runoff.

Increased stormwater runoff ends up in lakes, rivers and streams and can have these negative impacts:

  • Increased flooding and property damage
  • Degradation of the natural stream channel
  • Reduced groundwater recharge and dry weather flow
  • Reduced water quality (Increased pollutant contamination, increased water temperature, loss of Habitat, reduced recreational opportunities)

Low impact design (LID) techniques work by emulating nature and the water cycle to allow stormwater to soak into the ground, evaporate back to the atmosphere or be stored on site to reduce runoff. LID techniques are based on the theory that stormwater is a resource - not a waste to be quickly transported off site and forgotten. LID techniques can have many benefits for the environment, including protecting the quality of our surface and ground water, preventing stream channel erosion, preserving trees and other natural vegetation and maintaining a consistent dry weather flow to rivers and streams.

Michigan State University Extension is offering a Landscaping for Water Quality program. This program will cover stormwater basics, Low Impact Design techniques, Plant types and uses in LID design and onsite customized design assistance to incorporate LID practices on your property. Cost for the program is $8 ($10 at the door) per person which includes all materials, Landscaping for Water Quality booklet, other resources and design assistance.

Landscaping for Water Quality programs will be held in Macomb County on Tuesday, September 10 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the MSUE Assembly Rooms in the VerKuilen Building, 21885 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, 48036.

The program will be repeated in Wayne County on Monday, September 23 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the RESA Building, 5454 Venoy Road, Wayne, Michigan, 48184.

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