As the expansion of civilization continues to rise, environmental abstractions are limited; rainfall-runoff volume is increased, while the quality of this runoff is decreased. The visible adverse impacts of urbanization include eutrophication, changes in flora and fauna, and physical changes in surface water bodies. However, these discernible impacts coexist with deeper, subsurface concerns not visible to the public; these include degradation of natural system hydrology and lower subsurface water table, as well as poor soil and aquifer health, all of which consequently affect the quality of our precious drinking water supplies. Due to lack of public education, government funds, or regulation, many times the visible symptoms are “treated” while the true source of the problem still exists and subsurface impacts continue to escalate. The term “sustainability”-commonly defined as the preservation of predevelopment environmental conditions, despite changes in land use, population, and urbanization- has become a catch phrase among many as awareness of these issues continues to rise. By way of this definition, true sustainability may prove to be impossible; however, with improvements in low impact development techniques, environmentally responsible planning, public education and implemented regulation, the possibility of achieving this goal is more likely.
Low Impact Development to Promote Natural Hydrology
Development takes a toll on system hydrology. Encouraging infiltration, groundwater recharge, and retention of stormwater flows can allow pollutants to be degradated biologically, can sustain drinking water aquifer levels, avoid man-induced sink holes, and alleviate erosion and high pollutant loading to natural water bodies.