Asphalt Paving Blog

Green Infrastructure: A Storm Water Management System

Asphalt and modern life go hand-in-hand, but without proper planning and implementation, asphalt can cause negative consequences for the environment and people.  That’s why Wolf Paving cares about green infrastructure.

What is Green Infrastructure?

A good definition comes from The Conservation Fund:  “Green infrastructure is strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations.”

Green Infrastructure and Storm Water Management

permeable pavementSo what part does asphalt play in green infrastructure?  Storm water runoff is the primary concern. 

Too much of the wrong kind of paving changes the dynamics of water runoff, making it difficult for storm water to be absorbed back into groundwater.  Instead of being able to percolate into the ground, pavement can cause water to run off too quickly to be absorbed.  It can also create flooding, which forces drastic water removal, also preventing it from being absorbed.  Besides the absorption factor, storm water carries many pollutants such as pathogens, nutrients, sediment, and heavy metals into streams and other water channels.

The right kind of asphalt, though, can actually help green storm water management efforts succeed.  Porous and permeable asphalts allow water to be re-absorbed into the groundwater and even filter it as it goes.  These asphalts have open-graded surfaces to allow water to pass into a stone recharge bed below, temporarily storing and filtering it instead of letting it run directly into waterways.  The asphalt incorporates various layers with different materials and thicknesses, all designed to mimic the filtration behavior of natural soil layers and remove pollutants that would otherwise be carried into waterways.  Water can then be absorbed, filtered, and returned to the underlying water table reserves.  In fact, full-depth porous asphalt pavements are encouraged by the EPA as a best management practice for storm water. 

Communities have become more aware of the need for green infrastructure, including the careful incorporation of the right kinds of asphalt in storm water management plans.  That’s not surprising when you consider that “converting one acre of old-style concrete or asphalt parking lot to a porous design captures up to 435,600 gallons of storm water,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported.  Wolf Paving takes environmental concerns seriously and offers many green solutions to help reduce the impact of pavement on the environments and communities we work with.

Interested in learning more about green infrastructures and porous or permeable pavement? Contact the experts at Wolf Paving for more information.

Image: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Topics: Milwaukee, Green Asphalt, Wolf Paving, Green Infrastructure