Atlanta installs permeable pavers to assist in storm water management
The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management partnered with Belgard Hardscapes to install more than four miles of permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP). The largest permeable paver retrofit project in North America, the installation includes multiple roadways across neighborhoods near Turner Field, former home of the Atlanta Braves.
In Atlanta, heavy rains repeatedly caused flooding problems in the neighborhoods of Summerhill, Peoplestown and Mechanicsville—areas adjacent to the huge parking lots at Turner Field and centered where Interstates 20, 75 and 85 convene. The shared singular draining system, combined with these impervious areas, contributed to regular flooding. In 2012, a particularly fierce storm sent runoff and raw sewage into people’s homes and backyards, causing the city to take action.
Atlanta's Department of Watershed Management began working on the Southeast Atlanta Green Infrastructure Initiative, which sought to develop a holistic approach to managing storm water runoff and reduce flooding while promoting sustainability and enhancing community amenities. A key aspect of green infrastructure is that it provides an alternative to traditional pipe replacement by incorporating elements designed to mimic nature to more effectively manage urban storm water and reduce flooding, erosion and sewer overflows. One of the immediate projects undertaken by the Department of Watershed Management was installing approximately permeable pavers in the communities.
Atlanta has adopted one of the most far-reaching post-development storm water management ordinances in the nation, laying the groundwork for a robust green infrastructure program for both private development and the city’s capital improvement projects. Under the ordinance, new and redevelopment sites are required to treat the first inch of storm water runoff with green infrastructure, such as bioretention (rain gardens) and permeable pavement.
As of June 2016, the new PICP system is providing over two million gal of storage capacity, giving residents extra flood protection during heavy rain events. The city’s plan is to reach seven million gal of storage capacity upon project completion.