Simply Science: Pervious Concrete

PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Concrete contributes to water run-off, which affects both water quality and water quantity. But there is a sustainable option called "porous concrete."

"In urban areas, most of our water bodies have been impacted by storm water runoff and about 40% of them are going to need restoration plans to get them back to where they need to be," said Brian Livingston of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

It's melting season. That's usually a good thing as the snow gives way to grass. But melting snow travels through gutters and over parking lots.

"All those pollutants are picked up. All the nitrates. All the grass clippings. The leave, the dirt and debris. It's all funneled to really small areas and a lot of times, people don't realize that these catch basins go directly to a water source," explains K.T. Bernhagen of Percoa USA, a company that manufactures and sells pervious concrete.

One part of the solution to controlling and treating storm water runoff is pervious concrete. It's basically concrete, minus all the fine particles that fill in the gaps between the larger rocks. It ends up looking something like a really hard Rice Krispiebar.

"Water that goes through any of these slabs, it's gonna go through and help recharge the ground water," said Bernhagen.

Pervious concrete is showing up in patios, parking lots and streets all over, including a portion of the parking lot at Plymouth City Hall. It is strategically placed ahead of their most used storm drain both to filter and to limit the amount of polluted water making it's way to the lake in your back yard.

"Pervious pavement is one of the practices that can be used to treat water where it lands," said Livingston."None of our practices are a silver bullet. But all of them used together in a treatment train can help us get to where we need to be."


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