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Rain Gardens and Other Innovations

image of wild flowers

While land use and buildings are critical components of sustainable development, there are a number of other measures that can be employed in order to reduce the impact of development on the surrounding environment. Many of these measures are categorized under the term "Low-Impact Design" (LID), which seeks to minimize stormwater runoff from a given site. LID projects include green roofs, rain gardens, rain barrels, downspout disconnections, permeable pavement, native plant landscaping and a host of other innovative ideas that combine to stop pollution from reaching our rivers and streams.


  • Stormwater is a commonly used term to describe nonpoint source pollution or polluted runoff. When a rainstorm or snowmelt occurs, the melting water picks up pollutants from the ground cover. The runoff from the land, along with these pollutants, may then be discharged into rivers and streams either directly or via sewage overflow events.

Rain Gardens & Other Innovations Resources

  • Green Roofs in the District. Learn how the Department of the Environment promotes green roofs as a way to reduce stormwater pollution and keep buildings cool.
  • RiverSmart Homes Program: Tips and information from the District Department of the Environment on reducing stormwater runoff from your property.
  • US EPA Low Impact Design website: Provides technical resources and analysis as well as strategies for reducing stormwater runoff.
  • Information on BayScapes: Learn how to landscape your yard in a way that benefits the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Permeable Pavement Overview: Explanation of another type of stormwater management technology, in which runoff can be filtered through special forms of pavement.
  • Rain Garden Design Templates: Interested in installing your own rain garden? The Low Impact Design Development Center has information on how to get started.