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Thinking About Pavement

Submitted by on October 7, 2018 – 8:39 amNo Comment
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Soil Science Society of America Special to Road Trips for Gardeners
From Soil Science Society of America

Parking lots, sidewalks, streets, and rooftops: cities are full of water-shedding surfaces. The October edition of the Soil Science Society of America’s Soils Matter blog explains why these surfaces are problematic, and how soil can be part of the answer.

Impermeable surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, move precipitation to storm drains, and from there to rivers, lakes, and oceans. But it’s not just water. Contaminants from cars and trucks wash away, as well as salts and other pollutants. All of that ends up in the watershed.

Bring back the soil, says Adrian Gallo, a doctoral student at Oregon State University. “One solution to this problem is to reconnect precipitation to the soil. Porous pavement allows water to filter through to the soil, using it as the natural and robust filter that it is.”

Porous concrete, asphalt, and pavers provide options for cities. They look like their non-porous counterparts, but have built-in void space. Water can flow through to a gravel-rock layer and then the soil.

“Porous pavement is a simple way to let water access the soil in areas that usually don’t let water infiltrate,” Gallo says. “Building parking lots or streets with the ability for water to pass through it helps minimize the cost needed for storm-drain infrastructure. They also decrease the amount of contaminants getting into surrounding river or streams, and help to replenish the aquifers and other groundwater sources beneath our feet.”

Here’s a video showing how porous pavement works done by the City of Portland, Oregon.

The Soil Science Society of American (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011.

(Photo courtesy of Soil Science Society of America; video courtesy of the City of Portland, Oregon)

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