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Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS) represent the next generation of stormwater management in Minnesota. The emphasis today is on keeping the raindrop where it falls in order to minimize stormwater runoff and pollution and preserve natural resources. Low Impact Development (LID) is an approach to stormwater management that mimics a site’s natural hydrology as the landscape is developed and preserves and protects environmentally-sensitive site features such as riparian buffers, wetlands, steep slopes, valuable (mature) trees, floodplains, woodlands and highly permeable soils. The MIDS project offers guidelines, recommendations, and tools that will help implement LID more uniformly across Minnesota's landscape and it provides guidance to effectively implement the concepts and practices that LID promotes and encourages. MIDS contains four main elements to meet these needs:

  • stormwater volume performance goals for new development, redevelopment and linear projects;
  • new credit calculations that standardize the use of a range of structural stormwater techniquies;
  • design specifications for a variety of green infrastructure best management practices (BMP's); and
  • an ordinance guidance package to help developers and communities implement MIDS.


The MIDS project began in 2009 when the Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to develop MIDS deliverables through Minnesota Statute 115.03, subdivision 5c, paragraph c. This statute reads:

"The agency shall develop performance standards, design standards, or other tools to enable and promote the implementation of low impact development and other storm water management techniques. For the purposes of this section, "low impact development" means an approach to storm water management that mimics a site's natural hydrology as the landscape is developed. Using the low impact development approach, storm water is managed on site and the rate and volume of predevelopment storm water reaching receiving waters is unchanged. The calculation of predevelopment hydrology is based on native soil and vegetation". Upon passage of the legislation, the MPCA collected input from developers, municipal planners, public works departments, and others to prioritize the most important structural and nonstructural best management practices needed for stormwater management. The stakeholder meetings were held In October of 2009, in Brainerd, Duluth, Rochester and Plymouth. In January 2010, the MPCA formed a workgroup (called the MIDS workgroup) under the auspices of the Minnesota Stormwater Steering Committee to guide the MPCA in the development of the MIDS products. This diverse group of stakeholders met monthly for three years and was co-chaired by Jay Riggs of the Washington Conservation District (2010-2013), Mark Doneux of the Capitol Region Watershed District (2010-2011) and Jim Hafner of the City of Blaine (2012-2013). The work group included:

  • Lois Eberhart and Wesley Saunders Pearce (Representing Phase 1 MS4 cities)
  • Jim Hafner and Scott Anderson (Representing a Phase 2 MS4 cities)
  • Jay Riggs and Mike Isensee (Representing metro Soil and Water Conservation Districts)
  • Wayne Cymbaluk and Mark Zabel (Representing greater Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation Districts)
  • James Vagle and Lisa Frenette (Representing the Builders Association)
  • Karen Jensen and Joe Mulcahy (Representing the Metropolitan Council)
  • Jesse Schomberg and Julie Westerlund (Representing Non Point Education for Municipal Officials)
  • Klayton Eckles and Kerry Thorne (Representing the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association)
  • Larry Frank and Ian Peterson (Representing the developers)
  • Tina Carstens and Forrest Kelley (Representing the metro watershed districts)
  • Chad Anderson and Mike Kinny (Representing the greater Minnesota watershed districts)
  • Robert Race and Tim Malooly (Representing the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association)
  • Paul Moline and Doug Snyder (Representing the watershed management organizations)
  • Peder Otterson, Julie Westerlund and Paul Radomski (Representing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
  • Beth Neuendorf, Bruce Irish and Nick Tiedeken (Representing the Minnesota Department of Transportation)
  • Shane Missaghi (Representing academic researchers)
  • Trevor Russel, Liz Boyer and Vanessa Perry (Representing non profit organizations)
  • Melissa Lewis and Steve Woods (Representing the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources)
  • Matt Durand (Representing greater MN MS4's)
  • Michele Caron and Randy Hedlund (Representing the engineering consultants)
  • Garry Johanson (Representing the Minnesota County Planning and Zoning Administrators)
  • Mary Davy and Deann Stish (Representing the Minnesota Utilities Contractors Association)
  • Joni Giese (Representing the Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Landscape Architects)
  • David Bade and Dennis Sutliff (Representing the Commercial Real Estate Development Association)
  • Mike Findorff and Anne Gelbmann (Representing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

How will MIDS be used?

Adapting and using LID approaches offers multiple benefits including minimizing and reducing the amount of pollution reaching our lakes, rivers and streams and helps to recharge groundwater resources. MIDS establishes unified LID standards, approaches and credits so we can consistently apply these principals across Minnesota communities. MIDS helps communities measure progress toward water and natural resource protection and restoration goals. MIDS will also be used as the highest standard for meeting the stormwater practice for Minnesota Green Step Cities.

The concepts behind MIDS can essentially be used by all Minnesotans – we can all do our part in minimizing stormwater runoff and pollution. MIDS was specifically developed for designers, engineers, planners, contractors, stormwater managers, landscape architects, public works staff, landscape industry, land use regulators and others involved in new development and redevelopment projects. MIDS methodologies will provide tools for these individuals to quantify reductions in post-development runoff and pollutant loading from a wide variety of LID practices.

Specific examples of how the MIDS package can be used, including the MIDS calculator, include the following.

  • Qualify as a Green Steps city. Green Step cities are considered to meet the highest standard for stormwater practices.
  • Qualify for Blue Star Award. The Blue Star Award is a certification and award program that offers municipalities that excel in stormwater management the positive public recognition that they deserve.
  • Greater involvement in voluntary initiatives, such as Complete Streets.
  • Improve likelihood of receiving Clean Water Legacy grants.
  • Increase likelihood of compliance with NPDES stormwater permits or other local requirements for managing stormwater. Examples include

Ordinance goals

A Community Assistance Package (CAP) is being developed to provide ordinances and tools that help integrate LID principles, including the MIDS performance goals and calculator, into a package that can be used by local units of government. These tools can be used by communities to help them achieve MIDS performance goals for stormwater volume. The CAP will include instructions about how to use the checklists, and various training materials and approaches used during implementation in several test or pilot communities.


The MIDS calculator is a tool designed to quantify reductions in post-development runoff and pollutant loading using a variety of LID practices. This graphic user interactive tool allows individuals to enter a project’s site conditions and determine the amount of stormwater volume retention needed and the pollution loading (sediment and phosphorus). The calculator then provides a method to enter their stormwater practices of choice and determine (calculate) the amount of stormwater volume and pollution reduction (credit) they can achieve. Currently, the calculator includes LID practices for green roofs, bioretention basins, infiltration basins, permeable pavement, infiltration trench/tree box, swales, filter strips and sand filters. Other practices will be added in the future. The calculator includes convenient links to specific design specifications for LID practices that are found within the Minnesota Stormwater Manual.

MIDS Fact Sheet: File:MIDS fact sheet.pdf

Related pages

  1. Overview of Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS)
  2. Performance goals for new development, re-development and linear projects
  3. Design Sequence Flowchart-Flexible treatment options
  4. Community Assistance Package
  5. MIDS calculator
  6. Training and workshop materials and modules
  7. Technical documents