Low impact development (LID) is increasingly being viewed by local governments and developers alike as a viable approach to stormwater management that can effectively protect aquatic habitat and water quality. LID relies on distributed runoff management measures that seek to control stormwater volume at the source by reducing imperviousness and retaining, infiltrating and reusing rainwater at the development site.

Early conventional stormwater management practices tended to focus on stormwater quantity and controlling a few extreme rainfall events, whereas the more frequent storms, which represent the majority of total runoff volume, carry most of the pollutants, and control the geomorphology of streams, were addressed in stormwater quality design practiced during the last decade. These frequent events are most effectively managed with a volume control approach, often described as stormwater source control or Low impact development (LID). Such an approach is described in this paper, demonstrating how water balance modelling can be an effective tool for evaluating and supporting implementation of LID options such as bioretention, pervious paving, numerous types of infiltration systems, rainwater reuse and green roofs. It also discusses recently developed water balance modelling software, including an Internet-based planning tool and a design optimization tool.

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