Using porous pavement for a home's driveways, walkways and patios has numerous benefits for the environment. For one, it helps recharge groundwater by allowing rain and snowmelt from paved surfaces to percolate into the soil. Porous pavement also reduces stormwater runoff and the contaminants that runoff carries. Further, the water that is absorbed into the soil is of a higher quality because porous pavement systems filter some pollutants out of the water before it's absorbed.
Builders and homeowners can benefit from using porous pavement, too. Builders can realize cost savings because porous pavement systems integrate a sub-surface base reservoir to store and transmit water, eliminating the need to build detention basins. Homeowners benefit because porous pavement provides an attractive, cost-effective and green alternative for the home's outdoor hardscape surfaces.
Porous pavement options for residential use include porous aggregate, open-jointed blocks, pervious concrete and porous asphalt. Regardless of the porous pavement used, all systems have these three components: the subgrade, a base course and a surface course.
The keys to the long-term success of porous-pavement systems are correct design, successful installation and proper maintenance. Design for the system is site-specific and must take into account soil conditions, climate, topography and type of use planned for the porous pavement, including loads and frequency of use. Installation practices must be clearly specified and communicated to the installers, and strict supervision throughout the project is highly recommended. Failures of porous systems are typically are the result of incorrect installation.
Ongoing maintenance is important to promoting maximum water flow-through and the longevity of the system. A proper maintenance plan for open-jointed blocks, pervious concrete and porous asphalt should include regular execution of the following steps:
If the surface layer is porous aggregate, it requires minimal maintenance. Aggregate that’s been displaced or compacted by vehicles or snowplows can be loosened and leveled with a rake. If traffic has crushed aggregate into fine particles or it has been pushed off a driveway, the aggregate should be replaced. Some aggregate surfaces may require weeding.
See also: Porous Pavements (Integrative Studies in Water Management and Land Development), by Bruce K. Ferguson (2005).
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