Rebuilding Houston Needs to Consider Stormwater Mitigation, According to Construction Industry Group

September 11, 2017

The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) strongly encourages federal, state and local government officials to include permeable interlocking concrete pavement in their plans to rebuild Houston.

“While no man-made solution could have completely prevented the devastation in Houston, permeable interlocking concrete pavement for flood-prone cities can help to significantly alleviate damage and save communities,” said Matt Lynch, ICPI Board Chair. “Impervious roads, parking lots and roofs prevent the natural infiltration of water and direct stormwater runoff to low-lying areas where major flooding occurs.

“Many American cities, such as Atlanta, are now using permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) to reduce flooding and improve the quality of life for their residents,” said Lynch. “Atlanta installed four miles of PICP streets to alleviate combined sewers flooding neighborhoods.  Houston can study Atlanta’s experience to help protect its citizens in the future.”

ICPI just published a new case study on the Southeast Atlanta Green Infrastructure Initiative that eliminated frequent flooding from combined sewer overflows in urban residential areas. Atlanta designed and constructed the largest PICP project in America using 1.5 million concrete pavers.

The permeable concrete pavers themselves do not actually absorb water, but instead are solid, high-strength concrete units assembled with joints filled with permeable aggregate that allow surface infiltration of water. The paving units are placed on an aggregate base that permits water storage and infiltration into the underlying soil while overflows can drain into storm sewers or underground storage vaults, as well as selected streams, lakes and estuaries.  

“In urban environments, where often more than a third of land is covered with man-made, impervious surfaces, PICP can bring tremendous relief to flooding,” said Lynch. “Urban flooding most often happens for two reasons: too much rainfall and impervious surfaces that prevent infiltration into the ground.  Permeable interlocking concrete pavement can’t reduce the amount of rainfall, but it certainly can help direct and reduce the amount of water runoff that leads to flooding.”