Permeable Paving Can Help Save Us and Our Bayous

Impervious Surface Is  A Major Cause of Flooding in Houston

June 17, 2015

Yes, porous paving does work in Houston. We need to use more of this, on our hot, sunbaked parking lots, on our sidewalks, driveways, patios, and more. (It’s cooler too!)

Storm water runoff is a major problem for our bayous (especially those that have had protective trees and plants stripped from their banks). And impervious surface is the major cause of flooding and contributes to water pollution too. Instead of soaking into the ground (or being deflected by trees and leaves), filtering naturally and slowly through the soil and being cleansed of pollutants, storm water runoff gathers quickly, racing through toxic streets and highways, into drainage systems and pouring all at once into our bayous and creeks.

Here is an interesting and timely article in the Houston Chronicle by the founder of Houston-based TrueGrid, a permeable paving company that even creates permeable grass parking lots.

(Note to Houston park and street planners: we don’t need to have ugly, hot impermeable concrete or asphalt sidewalks to accommodate wheelchairs and runners. TrueGrid makes ADA compliant, permeable sidewalks.)

There is, in fact, also a permeable asphalt, recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But here’s another interesting fact: in a typical urban residential area, rooftops account for 30-40 percent of the total impervious area. What can you do about that? Individuals can do a lot!

The Houston Arboretum has programs about how to build rain barrels and rain gardens. And here is an EPA slideshow about the importance of rain gardens and how to build them.

As the EPA says, “Slow it down, spread it out, soak it in.”

We don’t need to keep flooding and destroying our bayous, making them into bigger, uglier drainage ditches.

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