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Vegetated Infiltration Basins Flow-Through Planters Infiltration Planters Permeable Pavement

At first glance, there seems to be an unsolvable problem: residents and commercial properties want paved surfaces, but paved surfaces create serious stormwater runoff repercussions. Fortunately, there is compromise to be found in pervious pavements. Pervious pavements provide the benefits of normal pavement (easy to walk over, ability to park cars), but they allow water to percolate down into the ground. Pervious pavement technologies are well established, time-tested, and are recognized under the LEED Green Building certification scheme. Their benefits are clear: they can be more durable, more environmentally friendly, more aesthetically pleasing, and cheaper in the long term than traditional pavement. Multiple methods exist to make paved surfaces pervious, so a wide range of cultural preferences can be met with these materials. For example, porous concrete or asphalt contain little or no sand to allow for high void content, which provides for direct water absorption. Patio-like concrete block modular pavers, another type of pervious pavement, funnel water between blocks into a basement layer of washed sand and gravel for gradual water absorption.

Vegetated Swales

ALTERNATIVE PAVING OPTIONS

Contained Planters

Looking to improve the ecological impact of public spaces (like streets and sidewalks) will undoubtedly help to mitigate drainage issues in the Lower Highlands. However, paving on public right-of-ways is only part of the equation. To holistically address the issue of stormwater runoff in the Lower Highlands, we must also consider impervious coverage in private spaces, like residential and commercial lots. As mentioned before, many residents of the Lower Highlands pave over their front yards, for personal aesthetic or parking purposes. Commercial properties often pave front and back lots as well, usually to conform to parking regulations. The degree of paving in such areas contributes to stormwater runoff problems, and frequently results in localized flooding.

Trees

Reducing impervious pavement on private lots

A comparison of permeable pavement options

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LOWER HIGHLANDS NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN

Lowell, MA neighborhood plan for the Lower Highlands  

In the Fall of 2009, a team of graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning p...

Lowell, MA neighborhood plan for the Lower Highlands  

In the Fall of 2009, a team of graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning p...

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