Urban Development

Urban Development

The prevention and management of nonpoint source pollution in coastal areas poses a distinctive challenge to local decision makers. Although coastal areas hold great potential for development, urbanization can alter physical, chemical, and biological impacts within a watershed. Increasing water quality issues and degraded coastal resources point to the need for comprehensive solutions that protect and enhance coastal water quality as communities develop.

When developing new spaces, innovative thinking leads the way. Low Impact Development (LID) approaches should be used whenever possible to mitigate flood damage. Simple steps such as incorporating green infrastructure and breaking up impervious cover can increase stormwater infiltration in the local environment's groundwater reserves - a process that is critical for both the natural environment and downstream neighbors.

The following development guidance showcases Best Management Practices (BMPs) for new, existing, and site developments. These strategies provide a framework for preventing or greatly reducing the effects of nonpoint source pollution in our communities.

Explore regional examples, resources, and workshops for Low Impact Development (LID) tips and tricks from the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Development Types

Site Development
New Development

When development occurs in previously undeveloped areas, it can be destructive to the natural landscape and hydrology of an area. New development and the associated increase in hard, impervious surfaces often has the unintended consequence of increasing the volume while decreasing the quality of stormwater runoff that makes its way into rivers and bays.

Using the following management measures when planning for new development in the Texas Coastal Zone can both reduce the amount of stormwater exiting a site and improve its quality.

Roads over greenway in Houston
Find recommended performance standards and design approaches to protect water quality through low-impact development and conventional practices, while also reducing water supply demand and promoting resilient practices.
Existing Development

While it is increasingly common that new development projects are required to incorporate stormwater BMPs, many existing developments were not subject to such regulations. When redevelopment opportunities present themselves, they pose an opportunity to correct design flaws and better address stormwater-related challenges such as poor water quality and large amounts of runoff. Retrofitting existing development gives us the chance to better protect and restore our coastal waterways.

Existing developments can utilize the following management practices to reduce issues caused by surface water runoff in developed areas.

Downtown development with crane
Explore how new installations or upgrades can be incorporated into existing developments to better address stormwater runoff.


Check out the resources below for more information about design practices to use in your own backyard to improve the water quality of our region.

Did you know that the population within the Texas coastal zone is expected to grow from 6 to 8.5 million by 2050? Learn more about how economic, population, and infrastructure growth on the Texas Coast are all intertwined.
Whether you were born here or you just moved here, the choices you make can have an impact on our coastal waterways. Check out this handbook for ways to manage your water usage and reduce the impact of stormwater runoff in your own neighborhood.
Download, print, and share a user-friendly guide to different forms of drainage design that mimic natural processes and allow urban areas to slow down, spread, and keep stormwater in the area.
We can help an existing, already developed space better address its stormwater needs through a process called retrofitting. Retrofitting uses new technology or design approaches to revitalize an existing space and improve our stormwater treatment and storage.

Check out the resources below for more information about design practices to use in your organization, city, or county development project to improve the water quality of our region.