Did you see the recent investigative article in the New York Times regarding groundwater depletion in the U.S.?
Aquifers supply 90% of our nation’s water supply, but they are being over-pumped to levels that could cause irreversible damage to the U.S. economy and society as a whole - emanating in lower crop yields, poor drinking water quality, and shunted land development (housing).
A quiet contributor to this problem that doesn’t get enough attention is the amount of impervious surface area that covers our cities. With 40-60% of the urban landscape covered by impervious surfaces (streets, sidewalks, parking lots, etc.), rainwater that should be naturally re-entering the ground never gets the chance. Instead it becomes runoff that contributes to urban flooding.
These very issues are at the forefront of AquiPor’s mission to develop the permeable concrete technologies and engineering systems to help manage stormwater and recharge groundwater right within the built environment.
With a commitment by cities to introduce more permeable surfaces and upgrade existing stormwater systems with green infrastructure, we can start to reverse these trends.
Can your community benefit from AquiPor? We’d love to hear from you.
Find out more about AquiPor and learn how you can invest in this technology from the ground up!
The U.S. Geological Survey recently put together a model that estimated the amount of impervious parking lot coverage in the United States.
According to the report, 5.5% of all developed land in the lower 48 is covered by parking lots. That’s close to 26 billion square feet of surface area that is impervious to stormwater. All of this impervious surface area contributes to stormwater pollution and localized flooding when it rains.
With U.S. cities responsible for discharging up to 10 Trillion gallons of polluted water into clean waterways and flood damage costing the country $9 billion annually, parking lots represent an obvious opportunity for implementing green stormwater infrastructure.
By my very rough math, parking lots are responsible for tens of billions of gallons of stormwater runoff annually. That represents runoff that not only needs to be treated, but it’s also water that never makes its way back into the ground to recharge groundwater. In drought-plagued regions like the southwest and California, groundwater recharge is one of the most critical water management strategies that can be implemented.
One easy solution to this problem is to make parking lots surface-permeable. The right permeable pavement technology, when it’s accompanied with good engineering, is a no-brainer approach to stormwater management and groundwater recharge.
Besides the environmental benefits, the economic benefits of permeable pavements are understated. Getting stormwater back into the ground naturally is extremely valuable. Simply put, every gallon of freshwater that doesn’t need to be treated at a downstream wastewater treatment plant or imported from hundreds of miles away, represents real savings for a community.
In a previous post we addressed why we don’t yet see permeable pavement everywhere. At AquiPor, we’re working to change that with a technology that makes permeable paving the norm and not the exception in cities. The parking lot seems like a good place to start this trend.
At AquiPor, we believe that climate change is mostly a water issue. One of the most significant impacts of a warming atmosphere is the effect that it’s having on precipitation. The amount of water that a region gets and when it gets that water has become more and more unpredictable. This can mean too much water (flooding) in some regions, and not nearly enough (drought) in others. And even in drought-stricken areas, when precipitation does come, it can be volatile and sudden.
Extreme rain events, outdated infrastructure, and the vast amount of impervious surfaces in our cities all factor into the alarming levels of runoff pollution and urban flooding that communities now have to contend with.
At AquiPor, we’ve developed our permeable concrete technology to take the place of traditional paved surfaces to help manage stormwater, reduce pollution from runoff, and help mitigate flooding in cities and towns alike. Here are five ways that AquiPor can help make our communities more resilient to climate change:
2. AquiPor makes it easier for cities to deal with water pollution. It’s estimated that over 10 TRILLION GALLONS of untreated stormwater, wastewater, and sewage gets discharged into clean water bodies every year. This is due to the vast amount of impervious concrete and asphalt surfaces in cities, the amount of runoff these surfaces generate, and the outdated nature of gray infrastructure systems that are ill-equipped to deal with large volumes of runoff.
When it rains, stormwater that should naturally soak into soils and recharge groundwater instead becomes polluted runoff as soon as it hits the pavement. Much of this polluted runoff ends up in nearby water bodies.
By replacing traditional pavements with AquiPor’s permeable concrete, stormwater can now flow through the concrete and back into the ground. Due to the tiny pore size of AquiPor concrete, it can even filter out the majority of dirt, debris, and pollutants found in stormwater.
3. AquiPor’s product has an inherently low CO2 footprint. Cement and concrete production is responsible for 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions each year. In addition to AquiPor’s ability to manage stormwater and mitigate flooding, our concrete is produced in an entirely new way and does not use normal cement in the process. Instead, we use a combination of industrial minerals and without the need for cement plants, our process has an extremely low CO2 footprint when compared to normal concrete.
4. AquiPor uses recycled materials. Instead of relying on pollutive cements and additives, our concrete uses a proprietary mix of industrial minerals and “leftovers” from other industries.
5. AquiPor’s concrete is precast, making it easy and efficient to install. Precast concrete has a myriad of advantages, including uniformity, saving time, and improved quality control. Precast concrete is manufactured offsite in a covered environment which means it isn’t weather dependent, and it enables just in time delivery for jobs. It also allows for a cleaner, safer construction site.
These are just a few of the ways that AquiPor’s permeable concrete technology can make communities more resilient in the face of climate change. Where can this technology make the biggest impact in your community?
Fly-ash is a hazardous environmental byproduct from coal-fired electric power generation and industrial boilers.
For decades, utilities have disposed of coal ash dangerously, dumping it in unlined ponds and landfills where the toxins leak into groundwater. Some estimates state there are over 3 billion tons of legacy and “fresh” fly-ash waste in the U.S. alone. Many landfills and collection ponds are near large cities.
According to industry’s own data, 94% of the coal ash ponds in the United States are unlined. Unlined ponds are contaminating groundwater with toxins above levels that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems safe for drinking water.
Legal and technical experts from Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and partner organizations located and analyzed the data disclosures from utilities that report groundwater monitoring data and found that 91% of these plants are contaminating groundwater with toxic substances at levels exceeding federal safe standards.
AquiPor’s permeable concrete can be used to sequester various harmful industrial waste by combining these materials with our catalytic binder. One such waste material we have been successfully testing in our mix designs is fly ash.
There are environmental and economic advantages to recycling this waste back into our concrete, but in addition to that, it creates some emerging properties that are very compelling for our permeable technology.
How about that...taking care of industrial waste that is contaminating groundwater and putting it into new, useful permeable material that can help improve groundwater and freshwater in our cities?!