Best Practice

GreenStep City Best Practices: Environmental Management
Stormwater Management {BP No. 17}

Minimize the volume of and pollutants in rainwater runoff by maximizing green infrastructure.

Best Practice Actions

a. A narrower streets provision that permits construction of 24-foot roads for public, residential access and subcollector streets (with fewer than 400 average daily trips). 

b. Use of pervious pavements for streets, trails, parking areas and sidewalks.

c. For sites less than one acre, retain the water quality volume of 1.1 inches of runoff from all impervious surfaces for new and fully-redeveloped construction sites.

d. For non-MS4 permittees, adopt an illicit discharge prohibition rule or ordinance and an erosion and sediment control ordinance. Sponsor a robust Adopt-a-Drain program

a. Rain gardens/infiltration practices.
b. Rainwater harvesting practices.
c. Green alleys or green parking lots.
d. Pervious/permeable pavement or pavers.
e. Green roofs/walls.
f. Tree trenches/boxes.
g. Incorporate soil amendments and/or native plants into landscape design.

Step 3 Recognition Best Practice for Category A cities

Category A, B and C cities: implement this best practice by completing any one action.

Step 4 Recognition Metric for Category A, B and C cities

Metric # 9: Stormwater


Increased stormwater runoff and associated water pollution are often a result of land use changes and urbanization. Cities with 10-15% of their land area in impervious surfaces begin to see impairments to nearby water bodies. This in turn compromises clean drinking water and fishable, swimmable waters that support plants, animals and our local quality of life. Using a low-impact development, such as a green stormwater infrastructure approach, pollutant loading from stormwater sources is minimized, water is managed on-site and infiltrated as much as possible in such a way as to mimic predevelopment hydrology, and water quality benefits are recognized in the receiving waters. Cost savings are typically realized through this approach, which treats rainwater as a resource and a quality of life enhancement of urban life, not as a problem to be dealt with in a linear 'send it down the river as fast as possible' manner that fails to use it as replenishment for local groundwater in the local water cycle.

Using a "skinnier street" design over time as street reconstruction is needed on low-traffic streets, cities can see the multiple benefits of decreased impervious area, more trees and infiltration footage, less polluted runoff to nearby bodies of water, more/better sidewalks, and decreased construction and maintenance costs.

Greenstep Advisor

Paula Kalinosky, Hydrologist, MN Pollution Control Agency: and Joanne Boettcher, Stormwater Research Liaison, MN Pollution Control Agency: , 

Connection to State Policy

  • 2009 state legislation chartered the development of Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS) based on a low impact development (LID) approach to stormwater management that mimics a site's natural hydrology as the landscape is developed. MIDS is a set of regulatory tools, modeling methods, ordinance templates, and development credits to promote the implementation of effective techniques that minimize the volume of and pollutants in rainwater runoff. Adoption of MIDS can be used to comply with the general state permit for construction stormwater, post-construction stormwater management, and MIDS can be used to achieve waste land reductions as specified in a TMDL.
  • New state plumbing code rules taking effect in January 2016 provide for reuse of treated rainwater within buildings for toilet flushing, vehicle washing, industrial processes, water features, cooling tower makeup and similar uses.
  • A ban on the use and sale in Minnesota of coal tar sealants - for parking lots, driveways, trails, school yards and the like - went into effect January 1, 2014.
  • The MPCA issues Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits, Construction Stormwater permits (for land disturbance over 1 acre), and Industrial Stormwater permits. These three stormwater regulatory programs administer a general permit (and in some cases, individual permits) that incorporates federal and state requirements for Minnesota stormwater management. Cities with impaired waters that are issued an MS4 permit and that have an approved Total Maximum Daily [Pollutant] Load (TMDL) plan must annually report progress toward meeting each applicable Waste Load Allocation (WLA).


Major Benefit