Commentary: Pavement that Protects Water

Posted in: Ground Water News, United States Water News, Water technology
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The surface of the Carver County Government Center parking lot is porous.. Photo Credit: Chaska Herald.

Article courtesy of Madeline Seveland | January 26, 2016 | Chaska Herald | Shared as educational material

Here is a fun water riddle: What consists of a mixture of tar and holes, protects lakes and rivers from pollution, and also prevents slippery icy surfaces in the winter? It’s permeable pavement.

Permeable pavements allow water to filter and flow through them. They are constructed with added holes (or pores) that water seeps through to a storage area below, where pollutants are removed.

Permeable pavements, also known as porous pavements, are one of the many tools water management staff use to capture and treat stormwater runoff. This runoff causes pollution in lakes and rivers, as well as flooding in more urban areas without proper drainage. Permeable pavement allows water through and treats it, so it helps to reduce flooding, prevents pollution of lakes and rivers, and increases our groundwater supplies by putting water back into the soil.

An additional benefit of permeable pavements is that they can prevent ice from forming in the snowier winter months. Since water can move through porous pavement instead of sitting on top, little to no ice forms on the surface, especially on sunny days. Along with increasing safety for us, porous pavement can be better for our lakes and rivers. Less salt, if any, is needed to prevent ice buildup therefore less is washing into lakes and rivers.

Permeable pavement comes in many forms, including asphalt, concrete and bricks/pavers. It is ideal for areas with little space that still need to capture and treat stormwater runoff. It is often used in areas where other methods of capturing and treating stormwater runoff, such as stormwater ponds or raingardens, are too large.

It is not the right fit for some areas (high traffic, heavy equipment, high wind erosion areas) but is a good stormwater management tool if designed and used properly.

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