Infiltration and Low Impact Development
Property owners, municipal officials and community groups can consider a variety of options to cleanse storm runoff and recharge the groundwater that replenishes streams and ponds in dry times. The chart below shows some popular lower-cost measures that can be used by varied community members.
The first step in choosing ways to reduce runoff is to walk the land during a storm – see where the storm water goes and decide the best ways to intercept the runoff from impervious areas (hard surfaces). Consider how multiple practices could be combined to achieve the best results – for example, a rock filled trench could convey driveway runoff to a rain garden. Likewise, a grass swale could convey roof runoff to a groundcover buffer and/or a porous patio area.
BGY partner organizations can assist with a runoff analysis, and help you to arrange design services that show how to combine infiltration practices into an attractive, functional landscape. We can also identify contractors who know how to install infiltration practices.
There are many types of infiltration practices. The MassDEP Stormwater Handbook, Volume 2, Ch. 2 has technical specifications for structural Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are suitable for different site conditions. Excerpts from the DEP Handbook are in A Community Guide to Growing Greener, which can be downloaded from this website.
Professional resource links
LANDSCAPERS -- for rain gardens, swales, and related simple earth structures that slow and infiltrate rain water:
* Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) - Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals: http://www.organiclandcare.net/
* Ecological Landscaping Association (ELA) - Eco-Pros: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/find-an-eco-pro-2/
NOTE: MWC does not recommend or verify the qualifications of individual contractors, and assumes no liability for their work. Checking references is always advised.
The Internet offers a wealth of helpful guides, fact sheets and information about stormwater solutions that cleanse runoff. It is easy to use a search engine like Google and enter keyword for topic of interest (e.g., "rain garden", "porous paving" and so forth). You can also see examples of these solutions - use Google or another search engine and click on images, then enter keyword. Following is a short list of references about some topics of special interest.
- The Vermont Rain Garden Manual
The 20 pp. manual has details on design, installation, and 6 planting plans. There is a separate download that has descriptions for 150 rain garden plants. By the Winooski Conservation District, 2008.
- Rain Gardens, A Design Guide for Homeowners
The 12 pp. guide has colorful illustrations about rain garden design, size, installation and a short list of suggested plants. By the University of Connecticut Extension Service, 2006.
- Kansas City 10,000 Rain Gardens Initiative
This website has many pages about garden design, photographs of rain gardens, and descriptions of rain garden plants.
- You Tube rain garden tutorials
- This Old House online magazine
- Project Native
Descriptions and photos of native perennials, ferns, trees, shrubs and vines. Plants can be purchased at Plant Native’s farm store in Housatonic MA.
- Northeast Organic Farming Association
Organic lawn care and gardening publications.
DIY infiltration practices (grass swales, soakage trenches and much more)
- Rain Wise Solutions
- Stormwater Solutions Handbook
City of Portland, Oregon
- New Hampshire Homeowner’s Guide: Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home
- A Homeowners Guide to Protecting Water Quality in the Blackstone River Watershed (Download PDF)
Other helpful information for varied community interests:
- University of Connecticut, Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials
- US Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Is Everybody's Business
- EPA New England stormwater site
- EPA community outreach materials
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater Handbook and policies
- SuAsCo Watershed Community Council, Stormwater Matters
- MA Watershed Coalition Stormwater Guides – Coming Soon!