Interlocking Permeable Pavers Offer Natural, Sustainable Drainage

By Rebecca Sonnentag, County Materials Corp | September 28, 2010

A starting point for future riverfront redevelopment in the city of Neenah, WI, a walkway of interlocking, permeable concrete pavers is providing a test area for permeable paving applications and helping to promote the city's commitment to green construction and environmental responsibility.

A producer of concrete construction and landscaping products, County Materials supplied the permeable H2O Pro Pavers used for the public passageway that accesses a parking structure. The walkway is located in the city's downtown district and serves as an entrance to the office of Future Neenah, Inc., a community driven non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and cultural vitality of Neenah.

"Because the city made a commitment to sustainability, and we asked our residents and businesses to support this, we needed to put our money where our mouths are on this project," said Karen Harkness, Director of Community Development for the City of Appleton, and past executive director of Future Neenah. "We sought out a locally based product that would help with water dissipation and be user friendly."

County Materials' representatives note that H2O Pro Pavers offer the benefits of a locally manufactured concrete product as well as the distinct advantages of a permeable pavement system. Permeable H2O Pro Pavers allow rain to rapidly infiltrate through the full perimeter joints of each paver to eliminate standing water. The water drains into specially designed sub-base materials, where it is naturally filtrated before recharging the groundwater.

H2O Pro Pavers are produced by County Materials in accordance with ASTM requirements for durability and quality and meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) storm water requirements. The concrete units withstand heavier vehicle load capacities, and are pedestrian friendly for high foot traffic areas such as the Neenah walkway.

In the test area, the H2O Pro Pavers were installed adjacent to a pervious product made of recycled glass that is bonded together and held in place by grids. The performance of both products will be monitored in the test area and will determine which product will be utilized in the redevelopment of the waterfront project along the river in downtown Neenah. The evaluation should be completed in the spring of 2009.

Crews from Distinctive Landscaping, Inc. of Shiocton, WI, run by president Kevin Doucette and his partner and vice president, Todd Jahnke, installed the pavers. Said Doucette, "The pavers are working very well. Water easily dissipates from the paver surface through the voids and down into the clear stone base."

The setting base and joint material is composed of 3/8-inch clear stone. Drain tile was also installed under the stone. The installation presented only minor challenges to meet the varying grades of adjoining sidewalks and entrances while maintaining a minimum of a 1 percent slope. Doucette indicated the project installation went very smoothly.

"We would definitely use permeable pavers again," said Doucette, and added that, "permeable pavers work very well in areas like this where there is no natural drainage or pitch to help remove water."

Manufactured in a warm Tuscany color, the pavers have earned the project many compliments.

"County Materials was able to match the color of the pavers to the historic brick buildings and existing patio area," said Harkness. "We are very pleased with their aesthetics because they are beautiful."

The walkway has also caught the attention of the community for its visual appeal and functionality.

"The permeable pavers have really opened up this walkway, which was closed since the early 1980s," said Harkness. "People really love it and they're using it ... and the city of Neenah has been very supportive."

She explained, "The permeable pavers remove water effectively, are easy to clean and maintain, and aren't slick for pedestrians, even in winter."

County Materials' H2O Pro Pavers are meeting performance expectations and will continue to be evaluated by the City of Neenah for their long-term aesthetics, performance, price, and feasibility throughout the winter and spring.

Added Harkness, "There are so many applications and a lot of potential for permeable pavers to help with water runoff in our redevelopment areas, especially because it is an eco-friendly product."