Permeable Surface Selection Dictated by Use Patterns & Weather Conditions

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Melissa L. Podolsky, Director of Property Management

As more land is developed with impervious surfaces, the challenge for developers and governing authorities—towns, villages and municipalities—is to find ways to manage storm water, prevent flooding and erosion, and control contamination by pollutants. A cost effective and increasingly common solution is the installation of permeable surface.

Permeable pavement surfaces allow rain and snowfall to permeate or infiltrate into the ground reducing potential storm water issues. There are several options for permeable materials, including, concrete, asphalt and pavers. When selecting the most appropriate surface materials, it is important to consider the relative climate and traffic patterns.

The challenge is finding the right application. For example, in the Midwest, the regular freeze–thaw cycles have a significant impact on porous concrete. Ice prevention materials can cause clogged pores and snow plow blades can cause damage, leading to rapid deterioration. In cold climates, the installation of brick pavers is a better option. Pavers could be installed for essentially the same price as other surfaces, but with proper maintenance could potentially last up to 15 years longer than porous concrete or asphalt. Most concrete surfaces will last between 5-15 years, depending on traffic and weather patterns; with proper maintenance pavers will last closer to 30 years.

  • Pervious surface may save money in the long run: Installing pervious pavement may reduce development costs and the need for on-site detention as well as reduce storm water runoff.
  • Weather and climate should be taken into consideration: Midwest temperatures, freeze-thaw cycles and snow removal equipment make permeable pavers a better option for maintenance and extended life cycle.
  • Surface maintenance is key: Proper maintenance extends the life of pervious pavement. Pervious surfaces should be vacuumed 2-4 times per year as needed to remove debris and sediment.