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Runoff Control Guidelines


What is it?

Runoff Control Guidelines provide protocols for controlling surface and stormwater runoff from paved areas. Developed areas increase the rate and volume of runoff, primarily as a result of large areas covered in impervious surfaces, such as concrete pavement, and roofs. This causes sedimentation and erosion that can impact water quality and damage habitat, stormwater infrastructure, and property. Runoff Control Guidelines can establish the maximum percentage of impervious surface allowed on a property to ensure water can infiltrate into the ground, as well as provide guidance on runoff control measures such as wet and dry ponds, cisterns, splash pads, and green roofs.

How can municipalities use it?

Municipalities can implement policies to minimize and manage runoff in a Municipal Develop Plan, guiding relevant management plans (e.g., stormwater management) to include runoff targets, and incorporate low impact development practices to address runoff. Runoff rate and volume control targets guide site-specific application in drainage plans for the local area plan. Individual watershed management plans can also include runoff rate and volume targets to protect against damage and pollution of the watershed.

What are the advantages?

The advantages of runoff control guidelines include:

  • Reduces sedimentation and erosion issues that result from stormwater runoff which impact natural infrastructure

  • Guides new development to include practices that reach target runoff rate and volume

  • Encourages innovation through use of low impact development practices to reach runoff targets

What should you watch out for?

No tool is a silver bullet. The following should be considered when implementing Runoff Control Guidelines:

  • As guidelines are not necessarily required standards, they can create an opportunity to relax the minimum recommended practices

  • Monitoring is required to ensure runoff targets are met

  • Residential stormwater capture and reuse through irrigation in can be a key way of managing runoff. However, policies against stormwater reuse may prevent this

How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?

Runoff Control Guidelines help to maintain the natural infrastructure system by providing recommendations and targets that aim to reduce the impact from runoff. Runoff can cause sedimentation and erosion that damages natural areas such as forests and wetlands, and pollutes water quality. By directly protecting natural infrastructure assets from damage, functions and benefits can be maintained.


Stormwater Management Guidelines for the Province of Alberta – Guidelines intended to assist municipalities, local authorities, consulting engineers, and developers in the planning and design of stormwater management systems in Alberta.

City of Edmonton Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines – Edmonton prepared the Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines to address the need to control erosion and sedimentation, particularly with respect to new construction. The document provides guidance to assist in meeting the requirements of drainage standards.

Economic Instruments to Facilitate Stormwater Management on Private Property – created by the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP), a partnership between several conservation groups in southern Ontario, this white paper explores the mechanisms available to incent installation of Low Impact Development (LID) technologies, with particular focus on private commercial properties. This document includes information on runoff control.

Protecting Riparian Areas: Creative Approaches to Subdivision Development in the Bow River Basin. A Guide for Municipalities, Developers and Landowners – Designed to assist municipalities and those thinking of subdividing rural land, with development in the Bow River Basin. This Guide is intended to provide municipal officials and potential developers with more creative and environmentally sustainable alternatives to existing country residential policies and subdivision approvals, and tools for implementing those alternatives. An overview of watershed and riparian issues, benefits and challenges is presented, along with tools and techniques that can be used for landscape conservation planning and protection of natural and sensitive areas. This document includes information and best management practices on runoff control.

Did we miss something?

If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!

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