A new fact sheet on porous pavement is now available from Oregon State University. Porous pavement, also known as permeable or pervious pavement, allows rain and stormwater to soak into the soil instead of creating run-off. Its design includes open, porous spaces within the pavement that allows water to permeate into underlying soils.
Most of the roads and surface walkways used by pedestrians and vehicles in urban areas are made from impervious pavement. Impervious pavement does NOT allow water to permeate into the underlying soil. Instead, rains cause water to collect and travel along these impenetrable surfaces, picking up dirt, oil, and other contaminants. This stormwater is then either dumped directly into our streams and rivers or is added to the sewage collection system that is processed in our water treatment plants.
Allowing rain and stormwater to filter down through soils naturally keeps our streams and rivers clean and takes pressure and expense off of our water treatment facilities.
In most cases, porous pavement can substitute for conventional, impervious pavements without the need for any additional stormwater management feature such as a detention basin, swale, or rain garden.