Proper construction methods can prevent soil runoff and other water quality problems

The San Juan Islands Conservation District actively promotes sustainable land use practices. Our Natural Resources Planner is trained in LID design techniques and is available for individual site visits to help landowners conserve their natural resources.

Contact us if you are interested in a site visit to assess your soil and water resources. A follow-up report will contain information on the soils of your site, an aerial photo, LID fact sheets and site specific information such as vegetation management plan, a raingarden handbook and native plant lists.

LID Resources at the Department of Ecology:

  • Eastern Washington Low Impact Development Guidance Manual
  • Updated Western Washington LID Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Guidance Document
  • LID Cost Analysis Report, Presentation, & Video
  • Integrating LID into Local Codes: A Guidebook for Local Governments
  • LID briefing presentations for Elected Officials
  • Recorded Webinars for Compost, Producers, Suppliers, and Consumers
  • Presentations and recorded webinars for Landscapers and Nurseries
  • Link to the LID page at the Department of Ecology

Ten Common Low Impact Development (LID) Practices

  1. Rain Gardens and Bioretention
  2. Rooftop Gardens
  3. Sidewalk Storage
  4. Vegetated Swales, Buffers, and Strips; Tree Preservation
  5. Roof Leader Disconnection
  6. Rain Barrels and Cisterns
  7. Permeable Pavers
  8. Soil Amendments
  9. Impervious Surface Reduction and Disconnection
  10. Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping

Low Impact Development Approaches Save Money and Protect Island Watersheds!

  • Preserving forested or natural areas can save up to $10 per square foot or $435,000 per acre over conventional landscape solutions.
  • Balancing cut and fill on site can save up to $100 per cubic yard in haul costs.
  • Using raingardens and bioretention areas can save up to $4,800 per residential lot over conventional engineered solutions (Sherwood Gap Creek, 2000).
  • Creating narrow streets (24 feet wide) versus wide streets (32 feet wide) can save up to $30 per linear foot in street costs.
  • The use of bioretention areas can save up to $4,000 per residential lot over standard stormwater management pond costs (Somerset, MD, 2005).
  • Bioretention of runoff can save up to 75 percent of stormwater fees per residential lot (Kensington Estates, WA, 2001).
  • Shade trees on the south side of buildings can save up to $47 per tree per year in energy costs (Peper, 2007).
  • Green roofs can retain more than 75 percent of rainfall annually, reducing downstream stormwater management costs (ASLA Green Roof, 2007)
  • Recycling construction waste can save tens of thousands of dollars in haul costs, dump fees, and material costs (Stapleton, 2006).

Effects of Polluted Stormwater

  • Stormwater drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer systems
  • Individual human activity, not industrial dumping, is the primary cause of pollution in rivers, wetlands, and lakes and in Puget Sound.
  • Biodegradable soap is not a safe addition to stormwater drains and should be kept from running into the stormwater drainage system.
  • Wash your car in an area where the soapy runoff will be absorbed by the ground or take your car to a commercial car wash. Soapy water should not be allowed to flow into the street or into a drainage ditch.
  • Impervious bricks or pavers contributes to excessive runoff. Using pervious bricks or pavers help to reduce stormwater pollution in the environment.
  • Sediment is pollution and should be prevented from entering the stormwater drainage system.
  • Grass clippings and leaves in stormwater are regarded as pollution and should be kept out of the stormwater drainage system.


Pollution Solutions

LID Practices Peak Flow Control Volume Reduction Water Quality Improvement Water Conservation
Bio-retention Cell
Parking Lot Islands
Downspout Disconnection
Grassed Swale
Green Roof
Infiltration Trench
Narrow Road Design
Permeable Pavers/Pavement
Rain Barrel
Rain Garden
Sand Filter
Tree Box Filter
Tree Planting


Control the Flow

Bioretention with Underdrain

Facilities are landscaped shallow depressions that capture and filter stormwater runoff. As stormwater passes down through the planting soil, pollutants are filtered, adsorbed and biodegraded by the soil and plants. Because they are not contained within an impermeable structure, they may allow for infiltration. For sites not passing the infiltration feasibility an impermeable liner may be needed to prevent incidental infiltration.

Planter Boxes

Provide bioretention treatment control measures that are completely contained within an impermeable structure with an underdrain (they do not infiltrate). They are similar to bioretention facilities with underdrains except they are situated at or above ground and are bound by impermeable walls. Planter boxes may be placed adjacent to buildings, structures or sidewalks.


Facilities that are designed for partial infiltration of runoff and partial biotreatment. These are similar to bioretention devices with underdrains but they include a raised underdrain above a gravel sump designed to facilitate infiltration and denitrification. These facilities can be used in areas where there are no hazards associated with infiltration, but infiltration measurements show low infiltration rates or high depths of fill.

Vegetated Swales

Open, shallow channels with dense, low‐lying vegetation covering the side slopes and bottom that collect and slowly convey runoff to downstream discharge points. An effective vegetated swale
achieves uniform sheet flow through the densely vegetated area for a period of several minutes. The vegetation in the swale can vary depending on its location and is the choice of the designer. Most swales are grass‐lined.

Filter Strips (to be used as part of a treatment train)

Vegetated areas designed to treat sheet flow runoff from adjacent impervious surfaces such as parking lots and roadways, or intensive landscaped areas such as golf courses. While some assimilation of dissolved constituents may occur, filter strips are generally more effective in trapping sediment and particulate‐bound metals, nutrients, and pesticides. Filter strips are more effective when the runoff passes through the vegetation and thatch layer in the form of shallow, uniform flow. Filter strips are primarily used to pre-treat runoff before it flows to an infiltration BMP or another biofiltration BMP.

How to: Calculate the Design Volume

Infiltration facilities shall be sized to capture and infiltrate the design capture volume (V design) based on the runoff produced from a 0.75‐inch (0.0625 ft) storm event.

V design (cu ft) = 0.0625 x Catchment Area (sq ft)

Where: Catchment Area = (Impervious Area x 0.9) + [(Pervious Area + Undeveloped Area) x 0.1]
For catchment areas given in acres, multiply the above equation by 43,560 sq. ft./acre.