Barriers to Low Impact Development Study 2010-2012


Product: Barriers to Low Impact Development
September 2012
Laura Podolsky, Local Government Commission, Sacramento, California
Pp 58

Summary of Project

USEPA describes Low Impact Development (LID) as: “ approach to land development (or re-development) that works with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible. LID employs principles such as preserving and recreating natural landscape features, minimizing effective imperviousness to create functional and appealing site drainage that treat stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product. There are many practices that have been used to adhere to these principles such as bioretention facilities, rain gardens, vegetated rooftops, rain barrels, and permeable pavements. By implementing LID principles and practices, water can be managed in a way that reduces the impact of built areas and promotes the natural movement of water within an ecosystem or watershed. Applied on a broad scale, LID can maintain or restore a watershed’s hydrologic and ecological functions.”

While many communities understand the benefits of LID, getting LID projects built has been difficult. In an effort to address the difficulties in LID implementation, the Stormwater Monitoring Coalition (SMC) commissioned the Local Government Commission (LGC) to investigate the barriers its members are facing and prioritize strategies to remove those barriers.

A literature review focusing on site design and approval processes and associated codes, processes and perceptions was completed as a first task. A comprehensive list of barriers taken from the literature review was then incorporated into an online survey that was distributed to local, regional, and state agencies which ranked the significance of each barrier as it applied to their jurisdiction. 115 responses were received with the top barriers identified as:

  • Technical infeasibility
  • Lack of acceptable performance data for manufactured LID products
  • Lack of municipal design guidelines and plans
  • Conflicts with LID in the public right-of-way
  • Conflicts with broader sustainable planning goals
  • Lack of interdepartmental coordination and leadership at top levels of local government
  • Challenges with operations and maintenance
  • Inconsistent interpretation of permit requirements
  • Lack of a definition, guidance, and examples of off-site and regional LID solutions
  • Specific permit requirements but vague guidanceWith the support of focus groups, the LGC identified three primary recommendations for removing the barriers to LID:
  • Support the development of municipal LID design guidelines and plans recognized by the State and Regional Water Boards.
  • Support the development of a clear definition and guidance of off-site and regional LID solutions.
  • Support interdepartmental coordination and leadership at top levels of local government.

The study Local Government Commission generated a final report entitled Barriers to Low Impact Development (September 2012) summarizing the study process, findings, and recommendations for overcoming key LID barriers.