Most people would laugh at a few roadways in Southern California where only tourists attempt to drive after it rains. Locals avoid these routes to prevent damage to their cars and to avoid the demented folks who can be found boogie boarding through flood sludge of underpasses. The community members with a better grasp of logic shake their heads in exasperation. Every rain draws predictable flood damage, traffic hassles and goofballs with boogie boards and mayonnaise lids strapped to various body parts sliding around in the chowder. Why the flooding? A better question would be: “Why the surprise?” I have learned to navigate around these streets and parking lots that flood after every rainstorm. Home values in the area suffer, as appraisers don’t generally find humor in having to cross the street on stilts. While exasperating, flood prevention and curb appeal possibilities are not lost. Fortunately, the innovative technology of permeable pavement provides a green alley solution appropriate for any city.
Boston's first use of pervious (magic) pavement was created in response to their own water quality issues. A pollution fine was imposed on the Boston Water and Sewer Commission for violating the Clean Water Act. Boston’s "Porous Alley" frames permeable pavement that minimizes pollutants entering the water supply. Real Estate property value probably improved as a result. The Boston Architectural College and City officials constructed the first “green alley” in 2013 between Boylston and Newbury Streets in Boston’s Backbay. This filtering drainage system, completed in September 2014, is a porous roadway that directs rainwater and runoff to soak through the surface until reaching a storage layer below. Eventually, the water seeps into the underlying soil. The pervious concrete, porous asphalt, resin-bound paving, open-jointed blocks or cells and porous turf options = flooding, pollution and water waste problem solved through innovative technology.
Innovative Technology In The Prevention of Pollution
The potential of these ingenious surfaces is vast and developers have just scratched the surface of this innovative technology. When storms hit the Boston alleyway between West Canton and Holyoke streets in Boston’s South End, population funk and debris can make their way into the Charles River. Permeable pavement allows water to seep into the ground instead of ending up in waterways and storm drains. The water and any pollutants are now forced through a filtration system of varying sized aggregate and filter material. Moisture is filtrated into the storage basin until it is slowly released into the soil.
“The drainage watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, for example, covers 64,000 miles, and pollutants may travel to the Bay from as far away as Cooperstown, New York, or from farms in rural Pennsylvania.” ~Ocean Conservancy
When rain falls and snow melts onto unprepared topography, water adheres to pollutants. Phosphorous, nitrogen, zinc, motor oil, anti-freeze, and copper create the chowder run off that pours into storm drains and waterways. Some people will argue that this is inconsequential to our vast bodies of ocean waters and other natural water sources. Did you know that one-quart can of oil can contaminate two million gallons of drinking water, or create an oil slick that covers eight acres? Sewers can become overloaded in these conditions and add further to the discharge in the waterways. Fortunately, permeable pavement has proven to effectively remove solid pollutants. Just how important is this innovative technology? In addition to improving real estate values, maybe it will encourage faith in the power of preserving natural resources.
Remember when Detroit, Michigan communities recognized the value of permeable pavement and crowdfunded their Green Alley campaign? Clearly, there is much crowdinvesting interest, as Detroit's crowdfunding campaign exceeded its fundraising goal in 2014. The Ocean conservancy reported approximately 22,000 bodies of water in 2003 to be pollution “impaired”, and billions of people are ready to change it.
Further Benefits of Permeable Pavement
- Drought Management: Permeable pavement regulates the water movement of rivers and streams during droughts. Property owners can increase sustainability by directing filtrated water to be stored and satisfy many gray water uses.
- Flood Prevention: When the rain does fall, the inconsistent volume of rainwater, and overflows that have historically caused flooding can actually be managed. When pooling and runoff is prevented, the water seeping down into the porous flooring and underground water supplies reduces the flow to storm sewers and flooding of waterways. It manages the flow of water (rain or snow melt) over a longer period of time, reducing the stress on and infiltration of the storm drains and sewer systems.
- The ecological benefits: Air moves more freely through the empty spaces, leading to cooler air temperatures. The lighter color of the porous surfaces reflects heat as opposed to absorbing it, thus encouraging yet cooler temperatures. Cooler temperatures decrease the types of energy demands that cause higher emission of greenhouse gasses and air pollution.
Is this a more costly option than regular concrete and paving options? Pervious pavers, pervious concrete, porous asphalt, resin bound paving, open-jointed blocks or cells and porous turf all vary in cost. If value is measured merely by the expense incurred to install, permeable pavements are likely to be considered more costly. The long-term benefits of preventing flood mitigation expenses, avoiding pollution fines, saving water, preserving curb appeal and increasing general sustainability create a sizeable payoff from the investment of installation. Most people would rather crowdfund a green alley than pay for flood damage to their cars and businesses.
What do you think of crowdfunding innovative technology like permeable pavement? Have you experienced a flood, or water damage issue, where Magic Pavement could have solved the problem? Leave you comments and let us know!
This entry was originally published on October 7, 2015.