"Low Impact Development"
Complying with regulations will not be enough to return Ashland’s streams to their pre-urbanized water quality. As the city grows, native grassland and forest is converted into impervious surfaces like pavement and roofs. Not only does this generate increased pollution, it also prevents precipitation from soaking into the ground. Now stormwater is rushed to the stream in pipes, so floodwaters rise faster and higher than they used to. This flooding jeopardizes property, increases erosion, and degrades native fish habitat. A new concept of stormwater management is evolving in which precipitation is not regarded as an evil to be flushed away but instead as a valuable resource. A series of new concepts and technologies – referred to as “stormwater treatment” or “Low Impact Development (LID)” – are being developed to help harvest precipitation, moderate its delivery to streams, increase infiltration into the soil, and improve the temperature and water quality of runoff.
Ashland is one of the leaders in this trend – both in terms of improving stormwater treatment within public works and also by working with private developers to design and install LID features as part of new developments. If you would like to view a map of stormwater treatment facilities around town, with links to photos of different sites, look here: