Permeable paving the answer to surface water?

If you’ve been doing your homework prior to getting a few driveway quotes, then you’ve probably come across the term permeable paving.

Permeable paving basically allows surface rainwater to soak through rather than just run off into existing storm drains etc.

The problems created by surface water can be seen whenever a ‘flash-flood’ occurs or during a prolonged period of heavy rain. Drains overflow, ditches and streams can’t cope and in some cases, rivers burst their banks engulfing property and threatening lives.

The last decade has seen extensive paving activity as our lifestyles dictate that we have less time to spend in the garden and so we have opted for lower maintenance decking, patios and of course, extended our driveways to cope with increased car ownership per household.

All this surfacing has meant that whereas much rain water would have just soaked away naturally, with so much area ‘paved’, the water is running off to drainage points like household drains and roadside drains.

The system is unable to cope – as we have seen.

There is also the problem of pollutants – oil, fuel and other car fluids etc that may be washed away with rain and end up being deposited in rivers where they can pollute and cause a hazard to wildlife. These same pollutants may find there way into water treatment centres where, although they are filtered out, still necessitate extra filtering etc. before being clean enough to be returned to the drinking water supply.

The Government introduced some tough new planning measures to ensure that future paving activity didn’t add to the problem of accumulated surface water and in many cases, permission will only be granted for permeable paving.

Indeed, there are now specific block pavers which encourage water to ‘soak away’ either through their design or the material they are built from.

Your local paving companies will have more information on what’s allowed etc but if you’ve any particular concerns about surface water, then speak to them individually before you agree any work / costs as there are a number of solutions including choosing the right design of block or sub-surface.

This article was first published in our weekly homeowner newsletter dated 7th February 2011.

photo credit: m hicks

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