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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

Compare Costs of LID Practices with those of Conventional Development

Low Impact Development can save 15-80% over conventional stormwater management costs.

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Stormwater Management and Low Impact Development Costing

Traditional approaches to stormwater management typically involve hard infrastructure, such as curbs, gutters, and piping.

LID-based designs, in contrast, are designed to use natural drainage features or engineered swales and vegetated contours for runoff conveyance and treatment.

In terms of costs, Low Impact Development (LID) techniques can reduce the amount of materials needed for paving roads and driveways and for installing curbs and gutters. Other LID techniques can eliminate or reduce the need for curbs and gutters, thereby reducing infrastructure costs.

By infiltrating or evaporating runoff, LID techniques can reduce the size and cost of flood-control structures.

In some circumstances LID techniques might result in higher costs because of more expensive plant material, site preparation, soil amendments, under-drains and connections to municipal stormwater systems, as well as increased project management costs. Other considerations include land required to implement a management practice and differences in maintenance requirements.

In some circumstances LID practices can offset the costs associated with regulatory requirements for stormwater control.

The LID Factsheet provides costing comparisons and findings from 17 case studies.

Although not all the benefits of the projects highlighted in the case studies were monetized, with a few exceptions, LID practices were shown to be both fiscally and environmentally beneficial to communities.

In a few case studies, initial project costs were higher than those for conventional designs; in most cases, however, 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.

Save 15% to 80% Over Conventional Costs

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.

The full report is available for download at

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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