While riding out Hurricane Irene in suburban New Jersey at my brother’s house this weekend, I got to see permeable pavement in action.
The storm dumped over 7 inches of rain onto his town in about 12 hours. As I was out walking my dog in the worst of it, I saw water streaming off driveways everywhere — except at my brother’s house. The reason? His driveway (shown here in a photo taken that day) is constructed with permeable pavers that are laid on a bed of sand. The pavers allow the water to seep through to the sand, which filters it into the soil below.
The environmental benefits of permeable pavement are significant — it helps to curb runoff pollution and recharge aquifers — but that is not why my brother tried it. He installed permeable pavers because his previous driveway, which was conventional asphalt, like his neighbors’, did not weather the weather well and often required costly repairs.
My brother says the pavers have performed as advertised. Though he has extra paving blocks for repairs when needed, they have so far gone unused.
On Sunday, a few hours after the storm had passed, the surface of the pavers was only slightly damp to the touch.