Cottage Grove LID

Client: City of Houston

Project Cost: $ 1.7M

Service: Staking/GPS/Platting, Design

Practice: Surveying, Transportation, Hydrology & Hydraulics

Location: Houston, Texas


Employing low impact development (LID) design features for the first time in a City of Houston right of way (ROW) and tackling the associated issues that accompany this unusual project were welcome challenges. The limited right of way and subsequent residential encroachment into the ROW, overhead and underground utilities, and rapid redevelopment in the area necessitated creative and focused problem-solving.


We researched other successful LID projects throughout the United States to design a solution for our city that made sense. We worked closely with the community to incorporate the features so that they worked in application as well as augmented the beauty and functionality of the area. To this end, we recommended rain gardens with native vegetation for collection and treatment of stormwater runoff, and tree boxes, which contain small shrubs that sit behind curb lines.

Nothing motivates an engineer more than solving a problem with a unique solution. When the City of Houston approached us about polluted waters in one of our city’s major waterways, we rigorously researched LID solutions already in place throughout the US and devised a custom solution for our own city’s needs. As part of City of Houston’s CIP and with grant assistance from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the two-block area of Cottage Grove in Houston, Texas was selected for this pilot project.

This area is transitioning from small, single-family residences to dense townhome development, increasing the impervious surface area from 50% to 90% and overall density from a maximum of six dwellings per acre to 26. Employment of these new features will assist in determining if the new LID features improve water quality in the bayou while still maintaining basic city, street, and drainage criteria. If water quality improves and the cost of putting them in place results in a durable and low maintenance solution with a competitive construction cost, the City will expand Design Standards to incorporate the LID features into future construction and redevelopment projects.

The award-winning Cottage Grove project has received the ACEC Texas Chapter Gold Award of Excellence, and the National Recognition Award from ACEC National.

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