The use of clay permeable pavers – like Pine Hall Brick Company’s StormPave – is gaining momentum in both commercial and residential uses, which was the subject of a recent story in Stormwater Solutions magazine by Pine Hall Brick Company president and CEO Walt Steele. (Above photo: Marcus Clem)

When installed in a best-practices system, stormwater is directed into the ground, where it is filtered naturally, or held for use as irrigation. Removing stormwater out of the stormwater and septic sewage mix helps relieve the pressure on sewage treatment plants.

“Permeable pavement isn’t new. Many cities across the U.S. have begun using it for years in projects so they can stay in compliance with U.S. EPA regulations that limit stormwater runoff in combined sewer systems.”

Read at Stormwater Solutions.

Walt Steele

President, Pine Hall Brick Company

Looking across the historic West Bottoms of Kansas City, MO, you can see the expansive water permeable parking and event space underneath the overpass. Photo courtesy HNTB.

Permeable paving first came into its own a decade or more ago, to help large commercial developers and civil engineers help such clients as universities and municipalities stay on the right side of Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

But these days, more and more, architects and engineers are specifying segmental pavement, because of their aesthetics, durability, and ease of maintenance.

Examples mentioned in the article include:

Flats East Bank, adjacent to the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, in which use of StormPave pavers have contributed to the rehabilitation of the river’s ecosystems.

• A new 3.4-acre demonstration project in the Kansas City, Missouri’s Central Industrial District, to help comply with an EPA consent decree to reduce the impact of septic sewer.

• A residential project in Hillsborough, North Carolina, which complies with environmental regulations to help clean up nearby watersheds left polluted by fertilizer runoff.

One of the largest hand laid projects Derek Schneider, Principal, Aqua-Paving Construction, had ever completed, the West Bottoms parking and event space uses different paver colors to mark parking stalls. Photo courtesy Derek Schneider.

Clay pavers are ordinarily more expensive to purchase and install, but many say the benefits of longevity, durability, aesthetics and ease of maintenance can offset the initial costs.

In fact, city planners in New Albany, Ohio, concluded that StormPave permeable pavers were less expensive than conventional asphalt and storm drain in a residential street project when the expected cost of maintaining the asphalt in future years was included in the calculations.

In terms of maintenance, the pavers never fade and the color goes all the way through. Surface cleaning can restore them to the way they looked when installed.

Demonstration of the Pave Tech Typhoon cleaning system. Photo courtesy Pave Tech.

With permeable clay pavers, it’s well known that gaps between the pavers can become clogged, reducing the effectiveness of the drainage. To address that, Pine Hall Brick Company partnered with Fortress Edging and its Typhoon System, to demonstrate how the spaces between permeable pavers can be effectively cleaned through a combination of compressed air and a vacuum.

The demonstration was held in 2019 at a site in Lancaster, PA where permeable clay pavers had been installed in a parking lot five years earlier.

The Typhoon System uses strong blasts of compressed air that blow the joints clean clear down to the setting bed, effectively removing both the joint stone and the very fine debris that is suspended in the joints. The debris is then vacuumed and fresh stone is swept into place.

That test, and a second, similar test conducted by civil and mineral engineers at the University of Toronto, showed that a clogged permeable paver installation was substantially cleaned and again able to drain storm water at approximately the same rate that it was when first installed.

Both tests point to the need for regular maintenance, along with a way to substantially rehabilitate clogged installations without having to go through costly re-installation.