Kiefer Creek remains one of the healthiest creeks in the area due to the large amounts of natural areas in the watershed. But development is not only inevitable, in many cases it is desired by the community. But it is vital that we protect the natural ecology of the area as much as possible. Fortunately, there is a well-researched and commonly implemented practice called Low-Impact Development (LID) that can do just that. LID provides benefits for the developers, the landowners, and the community alike. LID integrates environmental sustainability into community development plans in a feasible manner. These practices ultimately produce economic, ecological, and aesthetic benefits for the community.
Better Management Practices (BMPs) are systems that can help a developer achieve reducions in stormwater pollution, runoff, and energy usage. The most popular BMPs for pollution and runoff reductions include bioretention basins, water quality swales, permeable paving, tree box filters and planter boxes, cisterns and rain barrels, and green roof gardens.
A large business, such as the proposed Walmart in Ellisville, could use these BMPs to improve visual landscaping and enhance site water quality. This would not only reduce infrastructure costs for the store, but it would also create an open, green campus for the community and foster a positive “green” image in the watershed community.
The Ellisville Walmart
Our project has been promoting low impact development to the Walmart developers and the Ellisville City Planning Department. After careful review of all of the proposed site plans, we proposed specific best management practices that would reduce the stormwater and pollution from the Walmart, and even potentially create an improvement to water quality from the previous use of the site: primarily a paved, unused lot.
The developers have incorporated some of these BMPs into their plans, including bioretention ponds and using native plants in their landscaping. We are continuing to work with the city and the developers to ensure that the development does not have a negative effect on the water quality of Kiefer Creek.
Case Studies on LID
Communities and researchers across the country have conducted numerous case studies on LID. In Atlanta, for example, the Trust for Public Land noted that the LID practice of increasing forestry and tree cover has “saved more than $883 million by preventing the need for stormwater retention facilities.”
In addition to community projects, many researchers and developers are beginning to examine the impact of LID on “Big Box” retailers. The EPA studied three LID plans used by Target, a company similar in structure and function as Wal-Mart. The results show that LID had a positive impact on development. Green roofs decreased run-off volume by as much as 17%; and the combination of green roofs, bioretention, and permeable surfaces decreased volume by 23% for a 2-year, 24-hour storm.
Similarly, Costco, another large-scale developer, experienced the benefits of LID first hand. At one store in Wilmington, North Carolina, Costco developers experimenting with porous concrete pavement (an LID strategy) reported “exceptionally well” performance.
The research and case studies indicate that Low Impact Development can significantly improve store development and maintenance down the road. As one report notes, however, it is difficult to measure the economic benefits of LID. For example, it is much harder to calculate the economic benefits of reducing run-off volume than it is to determine the cost of pavement for a parking lot. Nevertheless, as research on the LID grows, it will be possible to better monetize its benefits.