Traditional stormwater management directs runoff into a piped system
that carries it quickly offsite for discharge into a river or stream.
This can have an adverse effect on the river or stream, including
flooding and erosion, increased pollution levels, and damage to
fish and wildlife.
Water quality friendly stormwater management is a new way of thinking.
It focuses on managing stormwater on site, at the source. These
techniques mimic natural processes by allowing stormwater to slowly
filter through vegetation and soak into the ground. This reduces
the quantity and improves the quality of stormwater runoff flowing
from the property to stream.
Water quality friendly techniques include roof gardens, downspout
disconnection, permeable pavement, narrow driveways and parking
spaces, vegetated planter boxes and swales, and many others.
These techniques are technically sound and effective, and can be
used for new development, redevelopment, or retrofits of existing
development. Many are quite simple to construct and maintain. And
many have costs comparable to or less expensive than conventional
A number of these approaches are being used with great success
in the lower Columbia River region. Yet they remain overlooked as
a design option in many communities because many people are unfamiliar
with these practices – how they work, how much they cost,
and if or where they have been used locally.
This Field Guide provides technical information and multiple local
examples – with photos, addresses, and contact information
for 23 water quality friendly techniques. Together, we hope the
descriptions and photos will make it easier to identify, understand,
and integrate water quality friendly approaches into your house,
building, or neighborhood.
The Field Guide demonstrates that it is possible to integrate the
built and natural environments in ways that benefit both. See for