Stormwater management using LID practices

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

Stormwater is inevitable. Every rain, snow or sleet storm produces runoff. Depending on the type of soil, runoff may be more (clay soils) or less (sandy soils) based on its permeability. Unless controlled, stormwater runoff can have serious consequences: pollution of local waterways and flooding of streets and basements. This runoff collects soil, silt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, yard waste, pet waste, litter or any other pollutant and transports it to nearby drains or ditches.

A popular myth is that storm drains take stormwater to water treatment plants for cleaning. Storm drains actually transport this water directly to the nearest open water – a stream, river, lake or drainage ditch. These all eventually end up in the water we use for fishing, boating or swimming.

Another myth is that only heavy storms result in pollution.  In fact, a running garden hose can provide enough water to cause runoff of pollutants.

Reducing stormwater means diverting it into areas that will absorb the water rather than letting it run off into storm sewers or drainage ditches.

There are two ways to reduce pollution from stormwater:

  • Reduce pollutants in the stormwater
  • Reduce the amount of stormwater runoff

As long as there is precipitation, there will be stormwater runoff. Reducing potential pollution will go a long way in keeping our local surface water safe.

Low Impact Design (LID) practices can be used to divert, hold and clean contaminated surface water before it goes to local water resources.

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. Examples of LID practices include rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs and pervious pavement.

Michigan State University Extension is offering an Eco-Friendly Landscaping for Water Quality program on Tuesday, Apr. 16 from 6:00 to 9 p.m. at the MSUE Assembly Rooms in the VerKuilen Building, 21885 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, 48036.

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. 

This program is designed for home and business owners and municipal staff and does not require experience gardening with native plants.

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 and refreshments.

To register, go to the event page.

 For more information, contact Terry Gibb at or call 586-469-6440. 

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