( TNS) – A curbside garden filled with native plants that attract and feed bees and butterflies. Roofs covered with plants that slow the flow of water. Barrels and tanks that collect the rain pouring off rooftops.
Water quality experts believe that these types of landscape and design features, known as low-impact development, or LID, are both an important part of solving San Antonio’s problems with environmentally degraded waterways and flooding, particularly as the city continues to grow.
City planners expect about half a million new residential units here by 2040. With that comes more pavement and rooftops, surfaces known as impervious cover that prevent stormwater runoff from absorbing back into the ground and can make flooding more destructive and deadly.
Data from the U.S. Geological Survey show that the top annual floods along some San Antonio’s urban creeks and rivers have become more intense. All the city’s creeks and the San Antonio River carry levels of E. coli bacteria too high to allow safe swimming. San Antonio River Authority biologists say the cause is human and animal feces that wash off of impervious surfaces and into waterways when it rains.
These problems leave the city, Bexar County, SARA and others grappling with how

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