Low Impact Development and Water Conservation

LID and water conservative demonstration landscape at the South Coast Research & Extension
Center in Irvine. Photo courtesy of UC Cooperative Extension

Low Impact Development (LID) is a method of development that seeks to maintain the natural hydrological character of an area. LID provides a more sustainable and pollution-preventative approach to water management. Water can carry pollutants through the storm drain system to Orange County waterways; proper use of LID techniques can reduce the amount of water flowing into channels that may also transport pollutants.

The key to LID is simple – keep water from leaving a site or property by slowing the flow, retaining onsite and encouraging infiltration. LID can involve large scale systems in new development, but can also include small changes to your own backyard. Implementing modifications to your lawn or garden can reduce pollution in our environment, conserve water and reduce your water bill. For examples of what you can do in your backyard, please consult the Homeowners Guide for Sustainable Water Use on this page.

New water quality regulations for Orange County require implementation of LID in larger new developments and encourage implementation of LID and other sustainable practices in existing residential areas. In accordance with these regulations, all land development and significant redevelopment projects over a certain size will be required to examine the use of LID best management practices (BMPs) as part of the overall site design. These requirements will take effect in late summer 2011. Please visit our Model Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) page for more information about the land development process in Orange County and to view relevant documentation.

Water conservation through use of LID techniques and other methods not only reduces your water consumption and saves water for other uses, it also prevents pollutants from entering waterways. For more information about other ways you can save water, please visit the Better Gardening Page of this website, UC Cooperative Extension and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – Be Water Wise.