An example of stream daylighting. Image supplied/Boffa Miskell.

How do you do it? And what can I do?

Low Impact Design is a cost-effective and resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts that provides many community benefits. While conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems are designed to move stormwater from the built environment to dedicated ‘drop off’ areas, LID or ‘green infrastructure’ reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits

There are many ways in which you can reduce the amount of or treat stormwater on your property. What that means is that no matter what your budget is, LID methods can be put in place on your land, whether you are developing now or looking at improving an already developed site.

Will it require much work? How much maintenance is needed?

Because LID provides a comprehensive approach that has built-in redundancy, the possibility of failure is greatly reduced. This means that many LID techniques and methods are significantly influenced by your behaviour (as the property owner).

When implementing any form of LID (whether as a residential landowner or as a developer), the key factor to ensure success is to ensure that the methods selected are suited to your property.

When compared to conventional methods, LID practices reduce maintenance burdens for both you and for Council, as the techniques are simple, need no special or expensive equipment, requires little maintenance, and relieves the pressures on Council infrastructure.

Learn more about various LID methods and which may suit you and your budget below. 

Rainwater tanks

Rainwater harvesting systems collect and store rainwater for future use. Harvested water can be used for a variety of indoor and outdoor uses with minimal treatment (typically irrigation, toilet flushing and the laundry). By using rainwater around the home, you can reduce your annual water bill while also reducing the amount of stormwater runoff entering the Council’s stormwater system. It is a win-win!

Rainwater storage tanks come in a variety of dimensions and shapes to accommodate both the size of your property and the look you prefer. They can fit unobtrusively against your home, be buried underground, or even placed below your deck.

 

Rainwater barrels

Rain barrels are essentially smaller and less complex rainwater tanks. They are installed at the outlet of downspouts and intercept water draining down roofs. Barrels come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles and the water collected in barrels are mainly used for the garden.

Rain barrels are great for homeowners who want to collect and store rainwater but have limited space and/or budget. You can make your own rain barrel for little more than the cost of a wheelie bin from your local DIY store.

Greywater systems

Greywater treatment systems is a collective term for systems used to collect, treat and reuse water from showers, baths, basins and the laundry (called ‘greywater’). Treated greywater can be reused on the lawn and garden, for toilet flushing and as a cold-water source in the laundry. Greywater treatment can help reduce water bills and, in times of drought and water restrictions, it may be the only source of water to keep your gardens and lawn alive.

 

Raingardens

On the outside, rain gardens look like a typical garden. However, their function is much greater than a normal garden. The idea behind raingardens is that they will mimic a natural environment, meaning that the water is infiltrated and evaporates or transpires at its source (without having to be disposed of).

Once established, a well-designed rain garden can be maintained with minimal care which is great for busy homeowners.

Pavements

Permeable pavements are surfaces that encourage infiltration. They can be used in place of conventional asphalt or non-permeable concrete pavement. Permeable pavement alternatives contain pores, spaces or joints that allow Types of permeable pavement include:

  • Pervious concrete
  • Porous asphalt
  • Permeable interlocking concrete pavers.

Permeable pavement typically has a longer life span than traditional asphalt or concrete, making it a financially viable and long-term alternative (particularly where land values are high or flooding is a problem).

Soakholes

Soakholes or soak pits are deep holes that are filled with fabric and clean gravel, stone or scoria to provide treatment and disposal of stormwater from hard areas. Larger holes/pits can be used on residential lots with lots of available space. Where lot size is a constraint, a linear hole known as a trench can be used instead (referred to as an ‘infiltration trench’). This technique may be appropriate for sites where retrofit space is limited to long strips between buildings or along property lines (such as in a densely-developed area).

Soakholes provide a number of benefits to properties and can solve a range of problems (such as poor lot drainage or basement flooding).

Stream daylighting

Stream daylighting means bringing pipes to the surface by restoring streams to a more natural state. It allows more stormwater to get absorbed and gradually be released by soil and plants. This not only slows and controls stormwater flows but it also helps remove pollutants from the water — meaning that the overall water quality is improved. Naturalised streams offer multiple benefits over pipes, including restored habitats, enhanced stormwater management, and a natural asset for the community to enjoy.

Urban forests

Trees reduce and slow stormwater by intercepting precipitation in their leaves and branches. Many foreign cities have set tree canopy goals to restore some of the benefits of trees that were lost when the areas were developed. Homeowners, businesses, and community groups can all participate in planting and maintaining trees throughout the urban environment, as well as plant trees on their own sections.

Swales

Swales or bioswales are planted areas or channels designed to collect and treat polluted stormwater as it moves from one place to another. In contrast to typical pipes and concrete ditches, bioswales are landscaped shallow troughs comprised of natural materials, such as native plants, rocks and soil. Using bioswales around hard surfaces like roads, buildings and parking lots, promotes environmental sustainability while improving the aesthetics of the immediate surroundings.