Tools for Stormwater Management

Rain gardens are gardens containing flowering plants and grasses that can survive in soil soaked with water from rain storms. However they are not gardens that have standing water. Rain Gardens collect and slow stormwater run off and increase its infiltration into the soil.
Grassed swales are vegetated channels designed to treat and attenuate stormwater runoff for a specified water quality volume. As stormwater runoff flows through the channels, it is treated through filtering by the vegetation in the channel, filtering through a subsoil matrix, and/or infiltration into the underlying soils.
Pervious pavement is designed to allow percolation or infiltration of stormwater through the surface into the soil below where the water is naturally filtered and pollutants are removed.

Parking Lot

Filter strips are gently sloping, vegetated areas adjacent to impervious surfaces. They are intended to reduce impacts of sheet flow and velocity of stormwater and help improve its water quality. Sometimes referred to as vegetated filter strips, grassed filter strips, grassed filters or buffer strips, they help remove sediments, other pollutants and increase infiltration.
Bioretention basins are landscaped depressions or shallow basins used to slow and treat on-site stormwater runoff. Stormwater is directed to the basin and then percolates through the system. The slowed, cleaned water is allowed to infiltrate native soils or directed to nearby stormwater drains or receiving waters.
On-site, underground stormwater retention /detention captures and stores stormwater collected from surrounding impervious areas. Stored water is then released directly through an outlet pipe back into natural waters at rates designed to reduce peak flows and mimic pre- development conditions. In some cases stored water can be allowed to infiltrate to recharge groundwater.
Green roofs or vegetated roof covers (also referred to as living roofs, nature roofs and eco-roofs) are a thin layer of living plants growing on top of a roof. A green roof is not a collection of potted plants to decorate a roof space but rather an extension of a conventional roof which involves instillation of a layered system of membranes, substrate and plants.

Rain barrels (sometimes called cisterns) are above ground water storage vessels that capture water runoff from a building’s roof using the gutter and downspout system.

Stream buffer

Stream, or riparian buffers, are vegetated areas along the stream shore. These buffers slow down rain and snow melt runoff that can add nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants to streams.

Riparian buffer

Many of these practices can also be designed with pollinators in mind. Check out these resources to learn how your Best Management Practices can attract pollinators:

  • Gardening for Pollinators (USDA-USFS)
  • Ecoregional Planting Guides (Pollinator Partnership)
  • Pollinator Conservation (Xerces Society)
  • Bees and Flowers (UMN Bee Lab)

  • Also see:

    MN Stormwater Manual - Ch 7: Choosing Best Management Practices

    Choosing Best Management Practices -

    This section guides designers through key factors involved in stormwater BMP selection, and features a series of tables that present comparative BMP information.

    (from the Minnesota Stormwater Manual 2014)

    Wisconsin: Stormwater Management on Lake Superior Clays: A Best Management Practice Guidance and Information Source - UWEX Stormwater