Reducing stormwater costs through low impact development (LID) strategies and practices

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Courtesy of US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

This report summarizes 17 case studies of developments that include Low Impact Development (LID) practices and concludes that applying LID techniques can reduce project costs and improve environmental performance. In most cases, LID practices were shown to be both fiscally and environmentally beneficial to communities. In a few cases, LID project costs were higher than those for conventional stormwater management practices. However, in the vast majority of cases, significant savings were realized due to reduced costs for site grading and preparation, stormwater infrastructure, site paving, and landscaping. Total capital cost savings ranged from 15 to 80 percent when LID methods were used, with a few exceptions in which LID project costs were higher than conventional stormwater management costs.

EPA has identified several additional areas that will require further study. First, in all cases, there were benefits that this study did not monetize and did not factor into the project’s bottom line.  These benefits include improved aesthetics, expanded recreational opportunities, increased property values due to the desirability of the lots and their proximity to open space, increased total number of units developed, increased marketing potential, and faster sales. Second, more research is also needed to quantify the environmental benefits that can be achieved through the use of LID techniques and the costs that can be avoided. Examples of environmental benefits include reduced runoff volumes and pollutant loadings to downstream waters, and reduced incidences of combined sewer overflows. Finally, more research is needed to monetize the cost reductions that can be achieved through improved environmental performance, reductions in long-term operation and maintenance costs, and/or reductions in the life cycle costs of replacing or rehabilitating infrastructure.

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