News Brief

Puget Sound Decision Mandates Low-Impact Development

A recent decision in the Puget Sound watershed will require the use of low-impact development techniques such as drainage swales like this one in Seattle.

Photo: Low Impact Development Center, Inc.
An August 2008 decision by the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board directs the state’s Department of Ecology to require “low-impact development” (LID) techniques that go beyond end-of-pipe approaches to stormwater management.

A recent study conducted by state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that stormwater runoff is the leading source of pollution in Puget Sound, carrying herbicides, arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, and oil. The board found that protecting waterways would require stormwater management techniques—such as the use of permeable pavement, narrower streets, vegetated roofs, rain gardens, and open space—that allow water to infiltrate the ground close to where it falls.

Many builders in western Washington support LID, but there has been resistance to requiring it across the board, and some builders complain of delays and added expense in obtaining local permits for LID tactics. LID proponents say that educating local authorities will reduce such problems and that LID can save 25% to 30% in costs for site development, fees, and maintenance.

Published September 25, 2008

Wilmeth, M. (2008, September 25). Puget Sound Decision Mandates Low-Impact Development. Retrieved from

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.