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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Buildings, Real Estate and Facilities > Green Building Practices for Sustainable Facilities > Water Efficiency in Facilities

Permeable Paver Solutions for Water Runoff in Low Impact Development

Community development techniques -- both commercial and residential -- have a major impact on fresh water supplies and the surface and underground water system. Pavement is a big contributor to the problem. Now it can provide a solution.

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Sustainable Solutions with Low Impact Development

L.I.D. is in. That’s Low Impact Development, the standards by which the local ecosystem is minimally impacted by development, and water is preserved as a precious resource.

West coast microclimates are interesting. From rain soaked areas like San Anselmo, to rain starved areas like Bakersfield, each zone presents it own challenges for water issues. With each water challenge comes difficulties that municipalities, developers, and home-owners have to adapt to, and manage.

California Water Conservation Solutions

For example, water conservation is critical in California's central valley where each gallon of runoff can be a precious resource, if properly managed. Other areas of California offer surprising challenges -- such as Marin county, which is more like Portland, Oregon, which receives over 40 inches of rain a year.

LID offers workable solutions that developers and home-owners can implement to manage water issues whatever their situation -- dearth or deluge. Whether the issue is drought conditions or excessive runoff, sustainable water management is important to California.

Permeable Pavement allows water to rapidly pass through the pavement into a cistern or natural underground water supplies.

Modular Pavers Used in Hardscape Applications

permeable pavers for driveway

permeable pavers for sidewalk

permeable pavers for parking lot

permeable pavers for roadways and streets

Permeable pavement is a relatively new concept and product that reduces "impervious" surfaces from driveways, sidewalks and other hardscapes by allowing water to run through the pavement and back into the soil – not follow the hardscape to the street and eventually into our waterways. This solution retains more rainwater for our underground aquafers – but it also allows plants and the soil to filter pollutants out of the water naturally.

Permeable Pavers

One LID product that can provide solutions for water runoff and infiltration issues, large or small, is permeable pavers from Permapave Northwest.

Different from traditional concrete pavers, Permapave NW pavers have an actual flow-through rate of over 1 gallon of water per second. The pavers are manufactured from natural rock, with an acrylic polymer binder similar to the clear coat on your automobile. The finished product is a completely inert paver which returns water directly to the soil, or underground storage, without adding alkalinity, zinc or hydrocarbons to the runoff.

When permeable pavers are installed over properly prepared secondary filtration in the sub-grade, they will capture and filter 100% of gross pollutants and up to 70% phosphorus, 80% of heavy metals and 98% of hydrocarbons from the water that flows through them.

Residential Applications

  • Alleys, Driveways
  • Walkways
  • Patios
  • Camper Parking
  • High Traffic Grass Areas
  • Pools / Hot Tubs
  • Courtyard
  • Rooftops
  • Sidewalks / Pathways
  • Foundation Drainage

Commercial / Industrial Applications

  • Parking Areas
  • Pedestrian Walkway
  • Bike Path
  • Plaza / Entryway
  • Bioretention / Rain Garden
  • Rooftop
  • Tree Grates
  • Rooftops
  • Roadways / Median Strips
  • Large Public Spaces

Modular Permeable Pavers for Sustainable Landscaping

Modular pavers over an advantage over "poured" pervious pavement by allowing edges of permeable pavement to be installed in many locations – under downspouts, along sidewalks, along driveways, around trees, around rain gardens, and on or around patios.

Modular Pavers Used in Landscape Applications

permeable pavers for downspout

permeable pavers for trees

  • Permapave NW pavers are available in a number of colors/aggregates to enhance building and landscaping aesthetics.

  • PermapaveNW's Permeable pavers come in a modular, 12x12x2” standard size, with widths up to 16” and thicknesses up to 4” for heavier vehicle loads.

  • The pavers, while extremely pervious, provide the hard surface needed for normal urban activities.

The surface not only performs well for sidewalks, biking paths, parking lots, and driveways but also handles water efficiently in both drought and flood conditions.

The EPA has long noted the benefits of pervious pavers, highlighting them in their Best Management Practices: "depending on the design, pervious pavements (pavers), when used in combination with other techniques such as vegetated swales, or vegetated filter strips, may eliminate or reduce the need for land intensive BMPs, such as dry extended detention or wet retention ponds." (EPA Best Management Practices- porous pavements)

Both residential and commercial developers may find that the use of pervious pavers, which can range up to $8 per square foot, can actually make money for them, by eliminating detention ponds and increasing the amount of land that can be developed.

Home-owners can install the easy-to-use permeable pavers themselves, providing drainage areas for driveway or patios that may be puddling, or as a pervious cover for an underground water storage cistern.

The pavers can also be used as stepping stones, in pet areas, in gardens, along walkways, as parking areas for RVs -- the landscaping possibilities are endless.

Some municipalities are offering rebates for the purchase of LID products like Permapave. Check with your local city or county city and county governments, as well as water providers (ie: Metropolitan Water District) to find incentives and rebates to improve water quality, reduce runoff, or retain stormwater.

Sustainable Solutions to Stormwater Runoff

Retaining rain water for your landscape can be especially helpful during California's prolonged droughts. By protecting your landscape with adequate water supplies from a cistern, and from focusing the available rain into specific rain gardens, your plants will not suffer as much – and your water bill will thank you, too!

permeable pavers samples from Pavers Northwest

Sample permeable pavers by Permapave Northwest

Permapave Northwest
Distributor for Western US
815 NE 172nd Ave
Vancouver, WA 98684

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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