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    2010
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This green surface is full of holes – Keizertimes

This green surface is full of holes
Published: March 25, 2010

 


Click this picture to view a larger image.

Scott Erickson, owner of Quality Conrete and Evolution Paving Resources, demonstrates how his pervious concrete products works. On the right, he poured water onto an ordinary concrete surface. Much of it remains there. On the left, he pours water onto the pervious concrete, where it is almost instantly soaked through the concrete and into the ground, which reduces rain runoff. Temperature readings showed the water poured onto the pervious surface was nearly 20 degrees cooler.
KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

By JASON COX

Of the Keizertimes

Who knew concrete could help the environment?

Yet Scott Erickson, who has been selling pervious concrete throughout the northwest for about seven years now, says it can not only do that – it can save the customer money in the long run.

Erickson owns both Evolution Paving Resources and Quality Concrete, operating off a property just a hop, skip and a jump away from Wheatland Ferry.

In the world of stormwater runoff, large parking lots and driveways are a nightmare for environmentalists. It’s not the substance itself – it’s what rests on the concrete. With a solid concrete structure, water collects, then eventually runs off into ditches or wherever the downward slope takes it.

That water – and everything that gets in it, including oil, brake dust, cigarette butts and other substances found on roadways and in lots – then flushes untreated into local waterways, which can have devastating effects on streams and rivers.

Not so with pervious concrete technology. The water seeps through the concrete almost immediately, sinking into the soil below, which acts as a filter. This minimizes water runoff, reducing harm to local waterways.

And with new federal restrictions on stormwater runoff, it can also save money. Local governments are now assessing its households and businesses for stormwater runoff, calculated in large part by the square footage of impervious surface on a property. The roof and concrete or asphalt parking areas are among the largest culprits.

“Cities are starting to say, ‘We can’t just dump this in a ditch anymore, or even build detention ponds,'” Erickson said. “It has to be treated.”

To demonstrate, Erickson took a jug of water and poured it simultaneously onto standard asphalt and onto the pervious concrete. Not only did the water seep into the pervious surface while it pooled on the asphalt, the water was also significantly cooler.

The asphalt surface was 110 degrees Fahrenheit dry. A few seconds after pouring, the water on it was 103 degrees.

On the other hand, the pervious concrete was 103 degrees dry. And moments later, the wet area with just a trace of water was 83 degrees.

This distinction is important, Erickson said, because warmer water suddenly flowing into streams is unhealthy for water life.

“That temperature held in the pavement, when exposed to water, is deadly to fish,” Erickson said. “That’s an issue a lot of people forget about.”

The basic theory behind it has been around for years, Erickson said. He first learned of it when he traveled to Florida to see an early version of the technology.

With standard concrete, you start with different sizes of aggregate rock. Sand is used to fill the remaining gaps, creating a solid, non-penetrable surface.

The non-pervious concrete eliminates some steps. The same size of rock is used throughout, creating gaps. Erickson says to think of it as a bowl of same-sized marbles. However, the adhesive qualities that bind aggregate for concrete also binds the rocks used in the pervious surfaces.

Erickson said selling the stuff was initially difficult as the original designs were useful, but not very pretty to look at.

“I went out of my way to make it look not so harsh,” he said.

He still faces skepticism from some engineers, mostly those who aren’t familiar with the product, he said.

“Engineers are used to dealing with something they’re comfortable with,” Erickson said. “Their reputation is on the line.”

But the customers that take the leap are finding it cost-effective, he said. A residential customer in Portland, he said, is saving $55 per month in stormwater fees over similar-sized lots with impervious driveways, he said.

And while a few customers are really into the green aspect, he said many of his customers had few other alternatives.

He recently donated labor to install the driveways at two Habitat for Humanity houses in Keizer. They were nowhere near the city’s stormdrain system, and to connect would have been prohibitively expensive.

With the pervious surface, Erickson said the property wouldn’t have to be connected at all to the stormdrain system.

“If they would have had to put in a formal storm drain, their project wouldn’t have been viable,” said Bill Lawyer, public works superintendent for the city of Keizer.

Fred Meyer and WinCo stores in Vancouver, Wash., have also been using them because they would have had to install expensive pipes or find ways to retain stormwater either on-site or underground. Keeping it above ground renders a portion of the land unusable, while underwater tanks are quite expensive.

“They do it because we’re the low-cost alternative,” he said.

Original Article:
This green surface is full of holes – Keizertimes

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