AquiPor was recently featured on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on CBS! Hosted by Mo Rocca, Innovation Nation airs weekly and it’s a show that celebrates innovators, forward-looking visionaries, and historic pioneers. To say that we were thrilled to be featured on the show would be a massive understatement.
The CBS film crew visited us in Spokane and we had the chance to show them our pilot manufacturing plant and the technologies that we’ve been working so hard on to develop behind the scenes. Fun fact: We have now developed four proprietary versions of permeable concrete technology, ranging from expensive and hard to manufacture to very economic and easy to manufacture. They cover this and much more in our short segment.
We were grateful for the opportunity and glad there are shows like Innovation Nation that highlight human ingenuity and good things happening in the world. We hope you enjoy it!
If you’ve been following AquiPor for even a short amount of time, you know that we are developing a new type of permeable concrete that would help alleviate stormwater pollution in cities, and we’re really excited about that. It’s not every day you invent a technology that could not only make life better for people in cities but can also directly help make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
In short, our permeable concrete can help ease the pressure on already overused sewage systems and reduce pollution in the environment by providing a better way to handle rainwater and snow runoff. Instead of allowing polluted stormwater to run off of paved surfaces and into storm drains, our permeable pavers will allow this water to flow down through the material and into subsurface layers before naturally recharging groundwater.
There are many applications for our permeable concrete, and we thought it would be fun to share some ideas we have that you might not have thought of. Here are 5 possible applications of our permeable concrete:
1. Swimming pools: Not the actual swimming pools, that would be kind of silly to have porous material in your pool, but imagine that you have permeable pavers surrounding the pool. Excess water gets drained from around the pool, making it a safer place for your kids. Now, instead of yelling at your kids to “stop running around the pool!”, you can yell “kids, run and get me another beer!”. Honestly though, having less water around makes it less slick and therefore a lot safer for those you love. Just imagine!
2. Parking lots: You may not even notice it, but those random grassy swales in retail and commercial parking lots are actually there to deal with stormwater runoff. Instead of bulky, space consuming swales or stormwater ponds, AquiPor permeable pavers can take their place to manage stormwater without taking up all that usable space! Btw, did you know that 5.5% of all developed land in the U.S. is made up of impervious parking lots?! This is a problem we know can be reversed!
3. Sidewalk Panels: There are millions of miles of sidewalks throughout the U.S. and almost all of them are impermeable. What better way to manage stormwater from the street than to direct it to permeable sidewalks and manage it right there?! Now of course, these systems need to be designed and engineered to be structurally sound and to prevent road settling but we’ve considered that too. Our “steady-state”, porous detention tanks go underneath our permeable sidewalk panels and regulate how fast stormwater goes back into the ground based on the natural hydrology of those soils. As part of a fully engineered design, we can literally turn neighborhoods into stormwater infiltration corridors. Neat huh?
4. Bike lanes and walking paths: As more and more cities embrace micro-mobility and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, why not turn the designated bike lanes and pathways in cities into permeable surfaces? Any opportunity to transform impervious pavement into permeable surfaces not only helps with stormwater and flooding issues, but it’s also known that permeable paving can help eliminate urban heat island. Pedestrian friendly + stormwater management + elimination of urban heat island = WIN WIN WIN!
5. Driveways and residential patios: Using permeable pavers in a residential driveway and / or patio can help alleviate all manner of groundwater and stormwater runoff issues, while also safeguarding local water quality by protecting against the infiltration of pollutants. In cold climates, electric or hydronic heating systems in conjunction with a well-designed permeable paver system can not only eliminate snow and ice, but it can get that precipitation back into the ground naturally. Of course, these system designs cost more but it goes to show you what’s possible with permeable concrete pavers!
At AquiPor, we’re hard at work developing our technology to meet the standards necessary for each and every one of these applications. What else haven’t we thought of?! Get in touch with us and let us know!
Thrive Global recently interviewed our CEO Greg Johnson and uncovered what drives him and the AquiPor team in our quest to solve large, challenging issues surrounding water infrastructure and climate change. At AquiPor we believe that the biggest challenges represent the biggest opportunities and we're fiercely committed to helping solve them.
As extreme weather events seem to become more commonplace, cities face big challenges when it comes to managing stormwater runoff pollution and mitigating urban flooding. Check out this feature in Fast Company, where AquiPor’s material technology is highlighted as a potential solution to these pressing issues.
Read the article here
AquiPor had an amazing year in 2020, learn from our CEO Greg Johnson about our historic year here at AquiPor.
AquiPor is honored to be ranked among the top 5 emerging stormwater management startups globally in a recent report put out by StartUs Insights. We take great pride in the solutions that we’re developing with an eye toward solving stormwater issues on a grand scale and a ranking like this validates our work to this point.
In fairness to other emerging companies in the space, this list is far from exhaustive as there are a number of companies developing promising technologies that look to have a major role in stormwater infrastructure in the future. Ultimately, it is an encouraging sign to see the trajectory of innovation in a space that has been known to be devoid of it in the past.
At AquiPor we believe that stormwater and urban flooding issues can be solved within the confines of the existing urban environment in cities. As we continue to develop our permeable hardscape material and integrated engineering technologies, we believe that large scale green infrastructure will finally be possible within the existing built environment.
The best is yet to come.
Stormwater pollution has quietly become the most pervasive environmental issue that cities face today. As U.S. cities discharge trillions of gallons of untreated stormwater, wastewater, and raw sewage into clean waterways every year, a collective paradigm shift is desperately needed in urban water management. Larger storms are dropping more rain in less time, revealing what years of rapid urbanization and deteriorating infrastructure have done to our natural water systems.
The EPA estimates a substantial funding gap for stormwater management over the next 20 years, and surely lack of funding can always be a convenient scapegoat. But as cities continue to lean heavily on old solutions to solve new water challenges, we’re reminded of something: if a problem worsens with the more money you throw at it, then you’ve got a broken paradigm. And like it or not, this characterizes the current state of stormwater infrastructure in the U.S.
The combination of increasing rainfall and vast impervious surface area in cities has introduced overwhelming volumes of stormwater that legacy infrastructure simply can’t contend with. Even super-sized tanks and larger system designs are scrutinized as outdated in the face of today’s extreme weather. As is the case with almost every facet of life, the status quo is no longer viable.
Fortunately in the midst of all of these headwinds, there is a silver lining. The unlikely combination of forward-thinking legislation, advanced technology development, and new realities are already ushering in the future of stormwater management. In combination, these three inflection points are poised to drastically change urban stormwater infrastructure moving forward.
New Realities usher in New Beliefs
For decades, regulators and decision-makers operated from the reactive belief that stormwater was a waste product to be captured and treated. Depending on the region, land was developed to withstand 10, 25, and even 100 year storms, and grey infrastructure was built and sized for the expectations of an era that is long gone. This one-size-fits-all configuration for managing the collection, treatment, and discharge of water has really never resulted in the best use of discharged water, as conditions constantly change. Never has this been more obvious than today.
As urban water systems deal with larger quantities of stormwater, regulators have been forced to adjust their lens. For every 1 degree (Fahrenheit) increase in temperature, the atmosphere holds about 4 percent more water vapor. Inevitably this is leading to much heavier and more intense rain events in certain areas. Stormwater management design used to primarily deal with water quality - ie., limiting the flow of chemicals, nutrients, and sediment into clean waterways. But in just a few recent years, the challenge of controlling water pollution has morphed into the growing challenge of protecting property and livelihoods.
All of this has brought forth a subtle and important change in how stormwater management is viewed. Over the past decade, green infrastructure was mostly given lip service as an integrated stormwater management approach. But today, the transition to green is seen as a necessity to confront the dual threat of urban flooding and increased water pollution. As many cities face budget cuts that make large grey infrastructure projects impractical in the near future, a more natural approach to stormwater management is proving to have both economic and environmental benefits for cities of all sizes.
Regulation with an eye toward the future
Regulators deserve some credit for acknowledging the situation that cities are in when it comes to stormwater management. By ushering in the bi-partisan provisions of the 2019 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, legislators have given cities big incentives to integrate green infrastructure into the larger water infrastructure objectives of their capital plans.
It’s my belief that green infrastructure will be prioritized at levels we’ve yet to see in U.S. cities and the integrated planning framework serves to reinforce that. Cities that routinely defer large wastewater treatment projects or grey infrastructure projects can now use integrated planning to meet Clean Water guidelines in lieu of those large and often unaffordable capital projects. This framework can be especially beneficial to municipalities with existing consent decrees.
Innovative green infrastructure approaches that prove to achieve the same desired outcome of a traditional grey approach can be used to satisfy existing consent decrees and to meet Clean Water Act obligations. As municipal budgets shrink, this framework opens the door for large-scale green infrastructure in our cities. But this will only be possible IF and WHEN innovation in green infrastructure finally comes of age.
Green Infrastructure: Great in Theory.
As a theory, green infrastructure is a no-brainer. The multiple roles that it can play in natural stormwater drainage, pollution control, aquifer recharge, and reducing urban heat island effect have the potential to supply cities with major environmental, societal, and economic benefits. But as it exists today, the current green infrastructure toolkit has clear limitations.
To date, green infrastructure has carried the stigma of expensive maintenance and lack of scalability. Rain gardens, vegetated swales, and stormwater ponds require specialized and often tedious maintenance. In many cases these solutions also consume usable space without adding tangible value to a property (ask any developer how they feel about setting land aside for stormwater detention).
Permeable pavement was developed with the duality of filling the stormwater management role while maintaining the usefulness of normal pavement, but existing technologies have been the same for decades - still prone to clogging and too weak for wide scale implementation. Simply put, existing green infrastructure technologies do not scale at a level that makes them easily integrated into larger water infrastructure objectives. But just as market and regulatory inflection points have bubbled to the surface recently, so too has an inflection point in material technology and engineering design. This technology inflection point may redefine the role of hard surfaces in green infrastructure and finally pave the way to its wide-scale implementation.
Reimagining 1,000,000 miles of hard surfaces
Despite the known short-comings of existing permeable pavements, the ability to utilize a hard surface material to manage stormwater onsite, while still providing the functionality of normal pavement has a major role to play in the future of urban water management. New permeable material technologies are being advanced with unique characteristics in strength, permeability, and material porosity that measures less than 5 microns in size - capable of filtering dirt, debris, and particulate matter onto the surface of the material for easy and cost-effective maintenance.
These materials are being developed for wide-scale integration into urban stormwater management systems as part of engineered designs that turn the edge of streets and sidewalks into permeable drainage zones, greatly reducing the footprint of existing stormwater facilities. Instead of full permeable street sections, or land set asides for stormwater ponds, we can reimagine the curb, gutter, and sidewalk as a natural stormwater drainage facility. Designed with the proper runoff coefficients, hydrologic, and structural factors in mind, the street becomes part of an infiltration corridor where groundwater recharge happens within existing cityscapes.
Deployed at scale we imagine the impact to be significant over the coming years.
Like so many things in our society, the status quo has run its course. Mitigating urban flooding and reducing the volume of stormwater to treatment facilities is both critical and achievable for a sustainable water future. As technology and institutional decision-making comes of age, the innovation deficit in water management will continue to disappear. So we better act with urgency.
Recently on the AquiPor podcast, we had the privilege of interviewing Melissa Meeker, the cofounder and CEO of The Water Tower. Melissa brings over 25 years of executive experience in water resources management to the conversation, and we covered a wide range of topics. We discussed everything from the role of green infrastructure in water management to the encouraging signs of more women and minority leaders in STEM careers. Seemingly, the conversation kept coming back to a brighter, more innovative future in water management.
Be sure to check out the interview and follow the work that Melissa is doing at The Water Tower. Based in Gwinnett County in the Atlanta, GA area, The Water Tower is creating an ecosystem of water innovation by fostering new technology development, applied research, on-site demonstrations, workforce development and training, and stakeholder engagement all under one roof. There’s reason to be bullish on this integrated planning, “one-water” movement that’s taking place in the water sector!
Melissa can be found on Twitter @MLMeekerWater and on LinkedIn
And The Water Tower can be found at www.theh2otower.org, on Twitter @theh2otower and Instagram @theh2otower.
It's pretty unbelievable how much sewage and pollution goes from our hard surfaces (i.e. concrete, asphalt, etc...) into American rivers every year. It's an 860 billion gallon problem that needs a solution just as big.
Read the article posted by AmericanRivers.org to learn how big this problem is. Then check out what AquiPor wants to do to stop this.
As we continue our Equity Crowd Fund at Start Engine, we've been asked a lot of great questions about the AquiPor technology and how it works. We thought we would give you a quick podcast that answers some of the most frequent questions we've received so far. Take a look, and please message us if you have any additional questions!
And once your questions have been answered, check out our equity crowd fund and see how you can be an early investor in what we believe will be industry changing technology!