The Concrete of the Future Lets Water Run Right Through It

Posted in: Global Water News, Water Conservation, Water Technology
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A crowd gathers to witness the installation of Ron Manuel’s driveway. Photos via Russ Barry and Israel Sundseth and elycefeliz on Flickr and Aaron Volkening on Flickr and Stormworks and Nine Mile Run Watershed Assocation and Tarmac/YouTube.

Article courtesy of Jacqueline Ronson | November 6, 2015 | Inverse | Shared as educational material

This article was written by Jacqueline Ronson, a science writer based on Vancouver Island, Canada. Before that she lived way up in Whitehorse, where she reported for the Yukon News. These days she likes to talk to smart people about the future of the planet, ride her bicycle, play her banjo, and frolic. She wrote a very interesting article about how concrete, which seemed to be an old technology, could be extremely useful to preserve the natural water cycle. By inserting some micro gaps into the concrete, the water can move down and become part of the groundwater. Here’s an excerpt from this article:

“If you’re a government engineer, if you keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, nobody can blame you for anything. Even if it’s not necessarily the best thing. Whereas, if you do something and it goes wrong, you can lose your career.”

His research group found that using permeable pavement shoulders on California highways beats out other water management techniques in terms of long-run costs. “We were somewhat surprised by the results,” says Harvey. The state’s transportation department is moving ahead with some test sections.

Philip Kresge with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association tells Inversehe’s seen a big uptick in awareness and interest in pervious concrete in recent years. “I think it is actually catching on very well at this point. Three, four years ago, it hadn’t been.”

It hasn’t really come into the mainstream, though, mostly because people still have misconceptions of it as an inferior product, he says. “They look at the material and because it has this open void they think it’s going to be weak, it’s going to be brittle, it’s not going to stand up to traffic. And they’re reluctant to use it in certain areas, in main areas, because of that.”

But the technology has really improved over the years. “It is certainly a very strong, durable, rigid pavement,” Kresge says.

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