AquiPor Community,

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! 

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Extreme rain events, outdated infrastructure, and the vast amount of impervious surfaces in our cities all factor into the alarming levels of runoff pollution and urban flooding that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:

 

  1. AquiPor’s permeable concrete manages stormwater right where it falls by allowing rain to flow through the material and naturally soak back into the ground. Instead of relying on inadequate gray infrastructure (underground pipes, tanks, and conveyance systems), which gets overwhelmed in big rain events, AquiPor captures and filters stormwater where it falls, getting precious rainfall back into the ground naturally. This is especially important for regions experiencing historic drought such as in California, where record amounts of precipitation were wasted due to inadequate infrastructure. 

 

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?

With climate change ever-present, it’s time to consider the value of stormwater and treat it like the freshwater asset that it is.

Even in the drought-ridden American West, climate change doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount of water an area receives, but it definitely has changed how, when, and in what form it arrives. This means more volatile precipitation, less snowpack, more flooding, higher temperatures, and shorter wet seasons. 

The impact that this is having on our watersheds is alarming. All of the water that we consume comes from a watershed. Watersheds consist of two distinct parts: surface waters - which are streams, rivers, and lakes - and groundwater, which is stored in underground aquifers.

Most areas, at least in the West, rely heavily on groundwater. The need to replenish these underground stores is critical, and every drop of stormwater that becomes runoff instead of seeping back into the ground is a missed opportunity. 

In most U.S. cities, where upward of 40% of the urban landscape is paved over with impervious surfaces, huge volumes of runoff are generated each time it rains. There is an enormous opportunity for cities to adapt to the new normal of climate change by turning impervious surfaces permeable. In this era of flashier rain events, where wet weather events can be extreme, volatile, and quick, cities can become more resilient by prioritizing the use of permeable paving and green infrastructure. Not only can it help mitigate urban flooding and runoff pollution, but it can readily get much needed precipitation back into the ground. 

The majority of urban surface area in the U.S. consists of concrete, asphalt, and other pavements that are impermeable to water. There are unintended consequences for the millions of miles of collective streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and rooftops that cover our cities. 

 

It’s estimated that over 10 TRILLION GALLONS of untreated stormwater, wastewater, and sewage gets discharged into clean water bodies every year. Traditional concrete and asphalt surfaces have a major role to play in this. 

 

When it rains, stormwater that should naturally soak into soils and recharge groundwater instead becomes polluted runoff as soon as it hits the pavement. In some regions that are experiencing larger and more sudden flashes of rain, the issue has evolved from one of stormwater pollution into one of urban flooding. 

 

 

Interlocking “gap” concrete pavers are prone to collecting debris within the gaps.

On the other end of the spectrum - in drought-ridden regions - when it actually does rain, every drop of rain that turns into runoff is wasted. Permeable pavement’s role in solving these issues is now undeniable. 

 

So what exactly is Permeable Pavement?

 

In the most basic sense, permeable pavement is a type of paved surface that is designed to allow rainwater to pass through it and back into the ground naturally. It seems like a no-brainer, but as great as the concept might be, the market for permeable pavement remains nascent due to a technology lag. Solutions such as porous asphalt, pervious concrete, and interlocking “gapped” pavers have been around for decades with very little innovation. 

More specifically, the lack of durability and a propensity to quickly clog up from debris has limited the real world potential for these products. Expensive maintenance and replacement costs haven’t helped, and the irony of portland cement-based permeable pavements should not be lost on us. The cement industry is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Elevated greenhouse gasses are amplifying climate change which is delivering more extreme weather. In other words, the very technologies meant to help cities adapt to climate change are in part contributing to it. 

 

 

This pervious concrete installation became impervious from clogging and moss growth.

Leaping Technology Forward

 

Despite all of this, permeable pavement should still be a key component of stormwater infrastructure moving forward, just not as it has existed in the past. Fortunately, new technologies are being developed that are resistant to clogging, as durable as normal concrete, and made with new types of “cement” that are environmentally friendly. At AquiPor, we’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat as the technology has evolved.  

 

In conjunction with reliable engineering, good hydrologic analysis, and an accounting of the capacity of the underlying soils to accept stormwater at a given rate, this type of material can be implemented into a permeable system design for full infiltration, partial infiltration, or even full attenuation where stormwater reuse is desired. 

 

Hard surfaces are very useful in our cities. Unfortunately, as they exist today they also contributed significantly to urban water issues. But with the right permeable technology and good engineering, they can be transformed to help improve the sustainability and quality of our natural water systems.

 

 

 

At AquiPor, we believe that the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity. Suffice to say, the enormous water challenges that our cities face today represent even bigger opportunities for AquiPor to make our mark. After five long years of ceaseless R&D, we’ve finally arrived at a technology that we believe can be paradigm shifting in urban stormwater management. 

For those of you that have invested, you have invested in much more than just a new construction product for backyard patios. We are developing our material technology to be the future of on-site stormwater management in cities. In the future, this material could be used in engineered stormwater designs that we haven’t even thought of yet!

What makes AquiPor material different is the pore size. We use a completely novel chemical technology approach to get material that is strong and permeable, but which features sub-micron porosity. It is capable of filtering out dirt, debris, and particle pollutants that are known to compromise existing permeable pavements.

For cities and developers, this means a small footprint, low-maintenance permeable surface design capable of managing stormwater runoff naturally, right within existing corridors.

As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of urban street miles in the U.S. So to be able to supply the market, we’ve been diligently lining up our supply chain and future manufacturing plans. We are working on some exciting developments to that end, which I’ll be sure to announce when I can.

In the end, big things are possible with the right combination of vision, technology, people, and capital, and your support at the outset of this launch has been incredible. Keep sharing our story and spread the word. We’re extremely thankful for that!

We've put together a short video to explain "The AquiPor Difference" and hope you'll stay tuned to our page for further updates. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. Onward!

Severe weather in the U.S. takes a hefty economic and societal toll each year. In 2019 alone, at the time of this writing, there have been 10 weather events that each resulted in losses greater than $1 Billion. Of these, 3 included severe floods and 5 included “severe storm events”.

When I think of flooding, extreme images of Houston, New Orleans, and Tohoku readily come to mind. But urban flooding in U.S. cities happens far more commonly than the mainstream news storm event, and they cumulatively take a bigger economic toll.

More recent scenes like these in New York or Spokane don’t get national attention because they’re local and not quite “natural disasters”. But flooding events like these happen more often than you’d think and they go mostly unnoticed…save for the local residents that end up dealing with the damage.

A changing climate is making these events more frequent, but it doesn’t help that our cities are caked in impervious concrete and asphalt. Up to 40 percent of U.S. cities are covered by impervious surfaces in the form of roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and other pavements. Rain and melted snow that would naturally soak back into the earth and feed a normal hydrologic cycle instead turns into high volume stormwater runoff. That polluted runoff is channeled to wherever the grade was designed to take it, usually far away from where it originally fell.

Under normal conditions, stormwater runoff goes to a treatment plant to be cleaned before it’s discharged into our water systems. But more, a city’s downstream infrastructure gets completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of runoff. The result is polluted discharge spewing into our rivers or up through manholes and into the street.

Better Stormwater Management

Stormwater management is the policy, planning, engineering, implementation, and maintenance of urban water systems and it is critical for the sustainability of clean water in cities. The classic approach to stormwater management entails channeling water away from impervious surfaces and the structures built atop them. We’ve constructed our cities on the assumption that the water that would have been absorbed back into the land can be transported away instead.

The problem is that the policies and the engineering that support an urban stormwater management plan is conceived within the expectations of past norms. But with weather events becoming much more unpredictable and urbanization adding thousands of miles of impervious surface area to our cities every year, designing stormwater systems with data from even five years ago is infeasible and dangerous.

Unpaving the Way?

Many urban planners point to impervious surfaces as the problem. Cities like Baltimore have even begun removing thousands of acres of pavement.

But pavement reduction as the sole cure for urban flooding isn’t scalable. Urban development continues to increase and pavements (roads, sidewalks, etc.) play a critical role in the transportation of people and goods, amongst other things.

Mimicking rural hydrology with green space is smart, but it is also limited by scale. Usable space in dense urban areas comes at a premium because there simply isn’t much of it. It’s why some cities questionably allow developers to build on flood plains and many other cities struggle with urban sprawl. There simply isn’t an endless supply of land area for stormwater parks, rain gardens, and vegetated swales. And where there is available space, it’s undoubtedly expensive. No question green infrastructure has a role to play in stormwater management, along with improving grey infrastructure. But to solve this issue at any meaningful scale, we need a whole new toolkit altogether.

The Future of Hardscape Infrastructure

If urban flooding can be tied to cities having too much impervious surface area and not enough green space, we can determine the huge role that permeable pavement will have in the future of urban infrastructure. Permeable pavement theoretically provides the function of normal pavement, while also playing the role of “green space” by allowing water to soak through it and into the ground below. But current market technologies are limited by their material capabilities.

Nevertheless, innovation is relentless. And it is usually driven by need. $103 Billion need Today there are cement and material technology startups developing the material of the future for on-site stormwater management. By creating permeable hardscape material that is extremely strong, with the ability to filter out contaminants in stormwater, cities will have the ability to greatly mitigate urban flooding and “future proof” themselves in ways that are actually scalable and practical. The ability of hardscape material is evolving, and it holds the key to sustainable water infrastructure in our cities.

Quiet as kept, we are facing a water crisis in the U.S. that’s being inflamed by a serious innovation deficit in water infrastructure. It can be solved, but only through the intersection of new technologies and fresh approaches with status-quo establishments in the water sector. Easier said than done, but what a huge opportunity.

All things considered, urban water management sits low on the “environmental urgency” totem pole. A dangerous combination of institutional risk-aversion, paltry investment in new technology, and artificially low water prices factor into this lethargy. Meanwhile, urbanization, the decay of century old infrastructure, and unpredictable weather patterns are straining urban water systems to the brink of failure.

The Key to Climate Resiliency: Innovation

It used to be that we could rely on past data to determine groundwater supplies or the potential for flooding in a given area. Those days are long gone. A changing climate is a present reality that has everything to do with our future water security. In 2017, extreme weather cost the U.S. $300 billion.

New scientific research shows that ten times more Americans are at risk of being flooded out by rivers within the next 20 years, even if greenhouse emissions are completely and immediately curbed. If water security comes down to how cities address this new normal, old path-dependent approaches will prove disastrous.

Knowing that current water infrastructure in the U.S. is nearing the end of its useful life, utilities are hurtling toward $700 Billion in new spending on water projects. This is an unprecedented opportunity for new approaches to be adopted by the industry. Fortunately, paradigm-shifting technologies are being (and have been) developed in each cog of the urban water cycle.

Bold new material technologies in permeable paving for stormwater infrastructure, distributed water technologies, potable water reuse, and energy recovery from wastewater all show tremendous promise. These could be game-changers at scale, improving the physical structure and financial future for urban water systems…If given the chance.

Financing the Future of Water:

Institutional path-dependence is but one barrier for promising technologies. The other obvious barrier is the lack of private investment in the development and deployment these technologies. In a vicious circle, the industry that most needs new technologies repels the industry that invests in new technologies — venture capital. Herd mentality on top of herd mentality.

Normally, promising startups turn to venture capital to finance growth. But in a dislocated (albeit, huge) industry with slow sales cycles and regulatory sluggishness, it turns out that venture capital is inherently at odds with water startups. Ironically, this probably bodes well for startups in the space. While institutional investors play follow the leader and pile into more marketable environmental plays, innovative water technologies will be backed by new financing mechanisms that allow them to be developed, launched, and deployed in ways that can be truly impactful.

It is my feeling that we are entering a truly disruptive period in water infrastructure. Regulatory policy-making is getting lapped by technological advances and new startup financing mechanisms like equity crowdfunding are finding their footing. The truth is, real innovation finds its way around entrance barriers. And when outdated institutional factors influence decision making — even when a new technology demonstrates the massive potential to improve an existing issue — disruption looms. Recall, we all used to hail taxi cabs.