Little Blue River Watershed Coalition


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Stormwater and Watershed Basics:
Low Impact Development:

Helpful Definitions:



the total land area from which water drains into a particular stream or river

Best Management Practices (BMPs):

stormwater management and conservation practices that have demonstrated to effectively control movement of pollutants, prevent degradation of soil and water resources, and that are compatible with the land use. BMPs can be divided into two categories: structural and non-structural.

  • Structural BMPs can be thought of as engineering solutions to stormwater management (Ex. stormwater ponds and open channels). 

  • Non-structural BMPs have no physical structures, but are designed to limit the amount of pollutants available in the environment that would potentially end up in stormwater runoff. Non-structural BMPs can be achieved through such things as education, management, and development practices. Some examples include ordinances and practices associated with land use and comprehensive site planning.

Impervious Surface

a surface which does not easily allow the infiltration or penetration of water.  During rainstorm events, a large percentage of water will runoff. Examples include roof tops, paved walks, roadways, driveways, sidewalks, etc.

Pervious Surface: 

a surface which allows infiltration or penetration of water.  During rainstorm events a percentage of water will infiltrate into the surface with the remaining storm water running off.  The percentage runoff is dependent on the type, slope, percent saturation, etc. of the surface.  Examples include lawns, farm fields, parks, wooded areas, golf courses, etc.

Stormwater Runoff

When it rains or snows, runoff picks up and carries a wide variety of pollutants into our storm water system. These pollutants then flow into our local waterways.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at least 50 percent of our nation's water pollution is caused by storm water runoff.

Low Impact Development (LID)

an ecological friendly approach to site development and storm water management that aims to mitigate developmental impacts to land, water, and air.  The approach emphasizes the integration of site design and planning techniques that conserve the natural systems and hydrologic functions of a site.

Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS)

Nonpoint pollution is the pollution of our nation's waters caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural pollutants and pollutants resulting from human activity, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and ground waters. In addition, hydrologic modification is a form of nonpoint source pollution that often adversely affects the biological and physical integrity of surface waters.

Green Infrastructure

the network of open space, woodlands, wildlife habitat, parks and other natural areas, which sustain clean air, water, and natural resources and enrich their citizens' quality of life.

 Primary Functions of BMPs:  (definitions related to stormwater runoff functions)


the percolation of water into the ground.  The soil texture and structure, vegetation types and cover, water content of the soil, soil temperature, and rainfall intensity all play a role in dictating infiltration rate and capacity.  


the collection of water into a designed treatment practice rather than allowing runoff


a BMP that filters pollutants from runoff, either through a natural (plant uptake) or designed process (sand, etc).


the collection and holding of runoff water volume to control flow


the process of water moving from one place to another


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