Stormwater Management

       In a natural Virginia woodland or meadow, very little rainfall runs off the land. During development of land natural vegetation is usually removed and replaced with hard surfaces such as roads, buildings, parking areas, lawns or playfields, etc.  -- all where forests once stood. This land surface change decreases infiltration, groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration and it increases runoff -- often dramatically.  During the past 20-30 years conventional strategies for managing stormwater runoff from developed land included a major emphasis on draining all the runoff from the site (roofs, roads, lawns, etc.) to the lowest spot on the property, building an engineered pond to capture it and then regulating the release to the nearest stream. Although this worked to some degree, it did have limitations including too much water released to a receiving stream thereby causing channel and streambank erosion, total loss of any groundwater recharge and little if any water quality treatment to remove pollutants from the runoff from developed land.

More current times place a strong emphasis on Low Impact Development (LID) which emphasizes maintaining the pre-existing hydrology (runoff and infiltration pattern) on a site after the site is developed. This places a stronger emphasis on intercepting, infiltrating and capturing water on the site rather than just sending it downstream.

There is a rapidly growing focus on LID strategies and practices. At the same time there is a rapidly approaching deadline, July 1, 2014, for local governments to adopt local stormwater management programs which require adoption of all new state stormwater regulations in Virginia. These new regulations embrace much of the concept of Low Impact Development.

Changes in stormwater management programming in Highland County will be a topic of a great degree of focus for the next fourteen months and beyond.

 Additional Resources

Last Updated:5/6/2013