Permeable paving

Permeable paving demonstration

Permeable paving is a method of paving vehicle and pedestrian pathways that allows for infiltration of fluids. In pavement design the base is the top portion of the roadway that pedestrians or vehicles come into contact with. The media used for the base of permeable paving may be porous, to allow for fluids to flow through it, or nonporous media that are spaced so that fluid may flow in between the gaps. In addition to reducing surface runoff, permeable paving can trap suspended solids therefore filtering pollutants from stormwater.[1] Examples include roads, paths, and parking lots that are subject to light vehicular traffic, such as cycle-paths, service or emergency access lanes, road and airport shoulders, and residential sidewalks and driveways.

Although some porous paving materials appear nearly indistinguishable from nonporous materials, their environmental effects are qualitatively different. Whether it is pervious concrete, porous asphalt, paving stones or concrete or plastic-based pavers, all these permeable paving systems allow stormwater to percolate and infiltrate the surface areas, bypassing the traditionally impervious materials to the soil below. The goal is to control stormwater at the source, reduce runoff and improve water quality by filtering pollutants in the substrata layers.

Description and applications

Permeable solutions can be based on: porous asphalt and concrete surfaces, concrete pavers (permeable interlocking concrete paving systems – PICP), or polymer-based grass pavers, grids and geocells. Porous pavements and concrete pavers (actually the voids in-between them) enable stormwater to drain through a stone base layer for on-site infiltration and filtering. Polymer based grass grid or cellular paver systems provide load bearing reinforcement for unpaved surfaces of gravel or turf.

Grass pavers, plastic turf reinforcing grids (PTRG), and geocells (cellular confinement systems) are honeycombed 3D grid-cellular systems, made of thin-walled HDPE plastic or other polymer alloys. These provide grass reinforcement, ground stabilization and gravel retention. The 3D structure reinforces infill and transfers vertical loads from the surface, distributing them over a wider area. Selection of the type of cellular grid depends to an extent on the surface material, traffic and loads. The cellular grids are installed on a prepared base layer of open-graded stone (higher void spacing) or engineered stone (stronger). The surface layer may be compacted gravel or topsoil seeded with grass and fertilizer. In addition to load support, the cellular grid reduces compaction of the soil to maintain permeability, while the roots improve permeability due to their root channels.[2]

In new suburban growth, porous pavements protect watersheds by delaying and filtering the surge flow. In existing built-up areas and towns, redevelopment and reconstruction are opportunities to implement stormwater water management practices. Permeable paving is an important component in Low Impact Development (LID), a process for land development in the United States that attempts to minimize impacts on water quality and the similar concept of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in the United Kingdom.

The infiltration capacity of the native soil is a key design consideration for determining the depth of base rock for stormwater storage or for whether an underdrain system is needed.