Low Impact Development (LID) is an approach to land development that works with nature to manage stormwater runoff where it falls.

LID preserves and recreates natural landscape features, and minimizes hard surfaces to create functional and appealing site drainage. Low impact development treats stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product.

LID includes a variety of landscaping and design practices that slows water down, spreads it out and soaks it in. These practices ultimately improve the quality, and decrease the volume, of stormwater entering our waterways.

City of Calgary LID projects

LID best management practices, such as the examples listed below, offer great potential to help Calgary balance development while also managing stormwater runoff more effectively.

The modules below provide a guide for things to consider when developing stormwater drainage works as part of the City’s Low Impact Development initiative.

Rainwater harvesting
This practice is another excellent method for managing stormwater runoff. Learn more aboutrainwater harvesting.

Why LID in Calgary

Low impact development is new in Calgary's history of stormwater managem​ent; however, it is a direct result of ourStormwater Management Strategy.

Specifically, LID projects are tied to these goals:

  • Reduce rate/volume of stormwater runoff entering rivers
  • Maintain sediment going into the Bow River at 2005 levels
  • Control sediment by focusing on retrofits in existing developed areas
  • Develop sustainable stormwater management practices

Our vision for long-term sustainable growth and development is a result of plans captured in the council-directed Plan IT Calgary process.

The Municipal Development Plan, Calgary Transportation Plan and the 2020 Sustainability Direction all provide direction for watershed protection and low impact development in Calgary.

The Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership (ALIDP) has also been instrumental in contribuing to LID research and initatives in our city and region.

Where does LID apply?

Low impact development is most commonly applied to land planning, building and development (or redevelopment practices).

Technical information about LID practices for building development can be found in the following resources:

Of course, citizens can also apply LID in many ways. For example, rain gardens are a wonderful example of a LID project that can be installed by homeowners.​