EPA researchers are working diligently to find innovative and improved ways to eliminate water pollution due to runoff over paved surfaces. They are also trying to find ways to better filter the runoff and use it in an environmentally positive manner to protect aquatic resources. As a result, here are 2 exciting new EPA tests that could make a meaningful difference in the production and use of alternative surfaces that will reduce water pollution, diminish erosion, and that will aid in the use and infiltration of rainwater in native soil.
Details on the EPA Tests
In Edison, NJ, at the EPA’s Edison Environmental Center, many EPA tests are being conducted to promote green infrastructure research. Two specific EPA tests are currently assessing both the use of permeable pavement materials and rain gardens.
In 2009, the Edison, NJ, facility replaced part of its parking lot with 43,000 square feet of permeable pavement with the plan to test for the next decade (among other things) the toxicity, durability, and amount of runoff for each type of the three different types of permeable pavement installed – permeable interlocking pavers, pervious concrete, and porous asphalt.
Often, rain water is carried away from native soil because of non-permeable pavement surfaces, reducing the amount of pure, local groundwater and decreasing the water quality in streams, lakes, and other receiving waters. This is especially true in urban areas where there are fewer green spaces. By using permeable pavement, the native soil receives the natural precipitation rather than the water being carried away to other water retention features. Also, since the water is not running along exposed paved surfaces, water pollution is reduced.
Another one of these EPA tests is the use of rain gardens. At this same NJ facility, buttressed against an impermeable section of the parking lot are six sections of specially designed rain gardens, engineered specifically to use the runoff and storm water from the parking lot. By strategically channeling rain water into rain gardens and designing these gardens to successfully disperse and contain the collected water throughout the green space, local precipitation is immediately put to good work and can positively impact the world’s green spaces. At the same time, the typical flooding, erosion, and polution are being reduced.while also reducing subsequent flooding, erosion, and pollution when the water is carried away.
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The EPA tests involving permeable pavement and rain gardens have helped in positively channeling and using local rainwater and storm runoff. By allowing water to penetrate once impermeable coverings, groundwater becomes more plentiful and is allowed to continue in the water cycle naturally. Using rain gardens to collect and use runoff from impermeable surfaces is a healthy way to positively use local water while also reducing erosion, possible flooding, and pollution. It will be very interesting to see what the EPA tests show at the end of the ten year period.
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