March 1, 2011


Permeable pavements are alternative paving surfaces that allow stormwater runoff to filter through voids in the pavement surface into an underlying stone reservoir, where it is temporarily stored and/or infiltrated. A variety of permeable pavement surfaces are available, including pervious concrete, porous asphalt and permeable interlocking concrete pavers. While the specific design may vary, all permeable pavements have a similar structure, consisting of a surface pavement layer, an underlying stone aggregate reservoir layer and a filter layer or fabric installed on the bottom (See Figure 7.1 below).

The thickness of the reservoir layer is determined by both a structural and hydrologic design analysis. The reservoir layer serves to retain stormwater and also supports the design traffic loads for the pavement. In low-infiltration soils, some or all of the filtered runoff is collected in an underdrain and returned to the storm drain system. If infiltration rates in the native soils permit, permeable pavement can be designed without an underdrain, to enable full infiltration of runoff. A combination of these methods can be used to infiltrate a portion of the filtered runoff.

Figure 7.1. Cross Section of Typical Permeable Pavement (Source: Hunt & Collins, 2008)

Permeable pavement is typically designed to treat stormwater that falls on the actual pavement surface area, but it may also be used to accept run-on from small adjacent impervious areas, such as impermeable driving lanes or rooftops. However, careful sediment control is needed for any run-on areas to avoid clogging of the down-gradient permeable pavement. Permeable pavement has been used at commercial, institutional, and residential sites in spaces that are traditionally impervious. Permeable pavement promotes a high degree of runoff volume reduction and nutrient removal, and it can also reduce the effective impervious cover of a development site.


The overall stormwater functions of permeable pavement are shown in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1. Summary of Stormwater Functions Provided by Permeable Pavement

Stormwater Function

Level 1 Design

Level 2 Design

Annual Runoff Reduction (RR)
Total Phosphorus (TP) Removal 1
Total Nitrogen (TN) Removal 1
Channel Protection
  • Use RRM spreadsheet to calculate a Curve Number (CN) adjustment; OR
  • Design extra storage (optional, as needed) in the stone underdrain layer to accommodate larger storm volumes, and use NRCS TR-55 Runoff Equations 2 to compute a CN adjustment.
Flood Mitigation Partial. May be able to design additional storage into the reservoir layer by adding perforated storage pipe or chambers.
1 Change in event mean concentration (EMC) through the practice. Actual nutrient mass load removed is the product of the removal rate and the runoff reduction rate (see Table 1 in the Introduction to the New Virginia Stormwater Design Specifications).

2 NRCS TR-55 Runoff Equations 2-1 thru 2-5 and Figure 2-1 can be used to compute a curve number adjustment for larger storm events based on the retention storage provided by the practice(s).

Sources: CWP and CSN (2008) and CWP (2007)

The choice of what kind of permeable pavement to use is influenced by site-specific design factors and the intended future use of the permeable surface. A general comparison of the engineering properties of the three major permeable pavement types is provided in Table 7.2, although designers should check with product vendors and their local review authority to determine their specific requirements and capabilities. Designers should also note that there are other paver options, such as concrete grid pavers and reinforced turf pavers, that function in the same general manner as permeable pavement.

Table 7.2. Comparative Properties of the Three Major Permeable Pavement Types

Design Factor Porous Concrete (PC) Porous Asphalt (PA) Interlocking Pavers (IP)
Scale of Application Small and large scale paving applications Small and large scale paving applications Micro, small and large scale paving applications
Pavement Thickness 1 5 to 8 inches 3 to 4 inches 3 inches 1, 8
Bedding Layer 1, 8 None 2 inches No. 57 stone 2 inches of No. 8 stone
Reservoir Layer 2, 8 No. 57 stone No. 2 stone No. 2 stone

3-4 inches of No.57 stone

Construction Properties 3 Cast in place, seven day cure, must be covered Cast in place, 24 hour cure No cure period; manual or mechanical installation of pre-manufactured units, over 5000 sf/day per machine
Design Permeability 4 10 feet/day 6 feet/day 2 feet/day
Cost 5
$ 2.00 to $6.50/sq. ft. $ 0.50 to $1.00/ sq. ft. $ 5.00 to $ 10.00/ sq. ft.
Min. Batch Size
500 sq. ft.
Longevity 6 20 to 30 years 15 to 20 years 20 to 30 years
Overflow Drop inlet or overflow edge Drop inlet or overflow edge Surface, drop inlet or overflow edge
Cooling in the reservoir layer Cooling in the reservoir layer Cooling at the pavement surface & reservoir layer
Colors/Texture Limited range of colors and textures Black or dark grey color Wide range of colors, textures, and patterns
Traffic Bearing
Capacity 7
Can handle all traffic loads, with appropriate bedding layer design.
Surface Clogging Replace paved areas or install drop inlet Replace paved areas or install drop inlet Replace permeable stone jointing materials
Other Issues Avoid seal coating Snowplow damage
Design Reference American Concrete Institute # 522.1.08 Jackson (2007) NAPA Smith (2006) ICPI
1 Individual designs may depart from these typical cross-sections, due to site, traffic and design conditions.

2 Reservoir storage may be augmented by corrugated metal pipes, plastic arch pipe, or plastic lattice blocks.

3 ICPI (2008)

4 NVRA (2008)

5 WERF 2005 as updated by NVRA (2008)

6 Based on pavement being maintained properly, Resurfacing or rehabilitation may be needed after the indicated


7 Depends primarily on on-site geotechnical considerations and structural design computations.

8 Stone sizes correspond to ASTM D 448: Standard Classification for Sizes of Aggregate for Road and Bridge Construction.


The major design goal of Permeable Pavement is to maximize nutrient removal and runoff reduction. To this end, designers may choose to use a baseline permeable pavement design (Level 1) or an enhanced design (Level 2) that maximizes nutrient and runoff reduction. To qualify for Level 2, the design must meet all design criteria shown in the right hand column of Table 7.3.

Table 7.3. Permeable Pavement Design Criteria

Level 1 Design
Level 2 Design
Tv = (1)(Rv)(A) / 12 - the volume reduced by an upstream BMP 1 Tv = (1.1)(Rv)(A) / 12
Soil infiltration is less than 0.5 in./hr. Soil infiltration rate exceeds 0.5 in./hr.
Underdrain required Underdrain not required; OR
If an underdrain is used, a 12-inch stone sump must be provided below the underdrain invert; OR The Tv has at least a 48-hour drain time, as regulated by a control structure.
CDA = The permeable pavement area plus upgradient parking, as long as the ratio of external contributing area to permeable pavement does not exceed 2:1. CDA = The permeable pavement area
1 The contributing drainage area to the permeable pavements should be limited to paved surfaces, to avoid sediment wash-on, and sediment source controls and/or a pre-treatment strip or sump should be used. When pervious areas are conveyed to permeable pavement, pre-treatment must be provided, and the pre-treatment may qualify for a runoff reduction credit.


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Figure 7.2. Typical Detail (Source: Smith, 2009)


Since permeable pavement has a very high runoff reduction capability, it should always be considered as an alternative to conventional pavement. Permeable pavement is subject to the same feasibility constraints as most infiltration practices, as described below.

Available Space. A prime advantage of permeable pavement is that it does not normally require additional space at a new development or redevelopment site, which can be important for tight sites or areas where land prices are high.

Soils. Soil conditions do not constrain the use of permeable pavement, although they do determine whether an underdrain is needed. Impermeable soils in Hydrologic Soil Groups (HSG) C or D usually require an underdrain, whereas HSG A and B soils often do not. In addition, permeable pavement should never be situated above fill soils unless designed with an impermeable liner and underdrain.

If the proposed permeable pavement area is designed to infiltrate runoff without underdrains, it must have a minimum infiltration rate of 0.5 inches per hour. Initially, projected soil infiltration rates can be estimated from USDA-NRCS soil data, but they must be confirmed by an on-site infiltration measurement. Native soils must have silt/clay content less than 40% and clay content less than 20%.

Designers should also evaluate existing soil properties during initial site layout, and seek to configure the site to conserve and protect the soils with the greatest recharge and infiltration rates. In particular, areas of HSG A or B soils shown on NRCS soil surveys should be considered as primary locations for all types of infiltration.

External Drainage Area. Any external drainage area contributing runoff to permeable pavement should generally not exceed twice the surface area of the permeable pavement, and it should be as close to 100% impervious as possible. Some field experience has shown that an upgradient drainage area (even if it is impervious) can contribute particulates to the permeable pavement and lead to clogging (Hirschman, et al., 2009). Therefore, careful sediment source control and/or a pre-treatment strip or sump (e.g., stone or gravel) should be used to control sediment run-on to the permeable pavement section.

Pavement Slope. Steep slopes can reduce the stormwater storage capability of permeable pavement and may cause shifting of the pavement surface and base materials. Designers should consider using a terraced design for permeable pavement in sloped areas, especially when the local slope is several percent or greater.

The bottom slope of a permeable pavement installation should be as flat as possible (i.e., 0% longitudinal slope) to enable even distribution and infiltration of stormwater. However, a maximum longitudinal slope of 1% is permissible if an underdrain is employed. Lateral slopes should be 0%.

Minimum Hydraulic Head. The elevation difference needed for permeable pavement to function properly is generally nominal, although 2 to 4 feet of head may be needed to drive flows through underdrains. Flat terrain may affect proper drainage of Level 1 permeable pavement designs, so underdrains should have a minimum 0.5% slope.

Minimum Depth to Water Table. A high groundwater table may cause runoff to pond at the bottom of the permeable pavement system. Therefore, a minimum vertical distance of 2 feet must be provided between the bottom of the permeable pavement installation (i.e., the bottom invert of the reservoir layer) and the seasonal high water table.

Setbacks. Permeable pavement should not be hydraulically connected to structure foundations, in order to avoid harmful seepage. Setbacks to structures and roads vary, based on the scale of the permeable pavement installation (see Table 7.3 above). At a minimum, small- and large-scale pavement applications should be located a minimum horizontal distance of 100 feet from any water supply well, 50 feet from septic systems, and at least 5 feet down-gradient from dry or wet utility lines. Setbacks can be reduced at the discretion of the local program authority for designs that use underdrains and/or liners.

Informed Owner. The property owner should clearly understand the unique maintenance responsibilities inherent with permeable pavement, particularly for parking lot applications. The owner should be capable of performing routine and long-term actions (e.g., vacuum sweeping) to maintain the pavement's hydrologic functions, and avoid future practices (e.g., winter sanding, seal coating or repaving) that diminish or eliminate them.

High Loading Situations. Permeable pavement is not intended to treat sites with high sediment or trash/debris loads, since such loads will cause the practice to clog and fail.

Groundwater Protection. Section 10 of this specification presents a list of potential stormwater hotspots that pose a risk of groundwater contamination. Infiltration of runoff from designated hotspots is highly restricted or prohibited.

Limitations. Permeable pavement can be used as an alternative to most types of conventional pavement at residential, commercial and institutional developments, with two exceptions:

Design Scales. Permeable pavement can be installed at the following three scales:

    1. The smallest scale is termed Micro-Scale Pavements, which applies to converting impervious surfaces to permeable ones on small lots and redevelopment projects, where the installations may range from 250 to 1000 square feet in total area. Where redevelopment or retrofitting of existing impervious areas results in a larger foot-print of permeable pavers (small-scale or large- scale, as described below), the designer should implement the Load Bearing, Observation Well, Underdrain, Soil Test, and Building Setback criteria associated with the applicable scale.
    1. Small-scale pavement applications treat portions of a site between 1000 and 10,000 square feet in area, and include areas that only occasionally receive heavy vehicular traffic.
    1. Large scale pavement applications exceed 10,000 square feet in area and typically are installed within portions of a parking lot.

Table 7.4 outlines the different design requirements for each of the three scales of permeable pavement installation.

Table 7.4. The Three Design Scales for Permeable Pavement

Design Factor
Micro-Scale Pavement
Small-Scale Pavement
Large-Scale Pavement
Impervious Area Treated 250 to 1000 sq. ft. 1000 to 10,000 sq. ft. More than 10,000 sq. ft.
Typical Applications Driveways
Court Yards
Individual Sidewalks
Sidewalk Network
Fire Lanes
Road Shoulders
Spill-Over Parking
Parking Lots with more than 40 spaces
Low Speed Residential Streets
Most Suitable Pavement IP PA, PC, and IP PA, PC and IP
Load Bearing Capacity Foot traffic
Light vehicles
Light vehicles Heavy vehicles
(moving & parked)
Reservoir Size Infiltrate or detain some or all of the Tv Infiltrate or detain the full Tv and as much of the CPv and design storms as possible
External Drainage Area? No Yes, impervious cover up to twice the permeable pavement area may be accepted as long as sediment source controls and/or pretreatment is used
Observation Well No No Yes
Underdrain? Rare Depends on the soils Back-up underdrain
Required Soil Tests One per practice Two per practice One per 5000 sq. ft of proposed practice
Building Setbacks 5 feet down-gradient
25 feet up-gradient
10 feet down-gradient
50 feet up-gradient
25 feet down-gradient
100 feet up-gradient

Regardless of the design scale of the permeable pavement installation, the designer should carefully consider the expected traffic load at the proposed site and the consequent structural requirements of the pavement system. Sites with heavy traffic loads will require a thick aggregate base and, in the case of porous asphalt and pervious concrete, may require the addition of an admixture for strength or a specific bedding design. In contrast, most micro-scale applications should have little or no traffic flow to contend with.


6.1. Sizing of Permeable Pavement

Structural Design. If permeable pavement will be used in a parking lot or other setting that involves vehicles, the pavement surface must be able to support the maximum anticipated traffic load. The structural design process will vary according to the type of pavement selected, and the manufacturer's specific recommendations should be consulted. The thickness of the permeable pavement and reservoir layer must be sized to support structural loads and to temporarily store the design storm volume (e.g., the water quality, channel protection, and/or flood control volumes). On most new development and redevelopment sites, the structural support requirements will dictate the depth of the underlying stone reservoir.

The structural design of permeable pavements involves consideration of four main site elements:

The resulting structural requirements may include, but are not limited to, the thickness of the pavement, filter, and reservoir layer. Designers should note that if the underlying soils have a low California Bearing Ratio (CBR) (less than 4%), they may need to be compacted to at least 95% of the Standard Proctor Density, which generally rules out their use for infiltration.

Designers should determine structural design requirements by consulting transportation design guidance sources, such as the following:

Hydraulic Design. Permeable pavement is typically sized to store the water quality Treatment Volume (Tv) or another design storm volume in the reservoir layer. The infiltration rate typically will be less than the flow rate through the pavement, so that some underground reservoir storage will usually be required. Designers should initially assume that there is no outflow through underdrains, using Equation 7.1 to determine the depth of the reservoir layer, assuming runoff fully infiltrates into the underlying soil:

Equation 7.1

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The maximum allowable depth of the reservoir layer is constrained by the maximum allowable drain time, which is calculated using Equation 2.

Equation 7.2


The following design assumptions apply to Equations 7.1 and 7.2:

If the depth of the reservoir layer is too great (i.e. dp exceeds dp-max), or the verified soil infiltration rate is less than 0.5 inches per hour, then the design method typically changes to account for underdrains. The storage volume in the pavements must account for the underlying infiltration rate and outflow through the underdrain. In this case, the design storm should be routed through the pavement to accurately determine the required reservoir depth. Alternatively, the designer may use Equations 7.3 through 7.5 to approximate the depth of the reservoir layer for designs using underdrains.

Equation 7.3 can be used to approximate the outflow rate from the underdrain. The hydraulic conductivity, k, of gravel media is very high (~17,000 ft./day). However, the permeable pavement reservoir layer will drain increasingly slower as the storage volume decreases (i.e. the hydraulic head decreases). To account for this change, a conservative permeability coefficient of 100 ft./day can be used to approximate the average underdrain outflow rate.

Equation 7.3


Once the outflow rate through the underdrain has been approximated, Equation 7.4 is used to determine the depth of the reservoir layer needed to store the design storm.

Equation 7.4


The maximum allowable depth of the reservoir layer is constrained by the maximum allowable drain time, which is calculated using Equation 7.5.

Equation 7.5


If the depth of the reservoir layer is still too great (i.e. dp exceeds dp-max), the number of underdrains can be increased, which will increase the underdrain outflow rate.

Permeable pavement can also be designed to address, in whole or in part, the detention storage needed to comply with channel protection and/or flood control requirements. The designer can model various approaches by factoring in storage within the stone aggregate layer, expected infiltration, and any outlet structures used as part of the design. Routing calculations can also be used to provide a more accurate solution of the peak discharge and required storage volume.

Once runoff passes through the surface of the permeable pavement system, designers should calculate outflow pathways to handle subsurface flows. Subsurface flows can be regulated using underdrains, the volume of storage in the reservoir layer, the bed slope of the reservoir layer, and/or a control structure at the outlet.

6.2. Soil Infiltration Rate Testing

To design a permeable pavement system without an underdrain, the measured infiltration rate of subsoils must be 0.5 inch per hour or greater. On-site soil infiltration rate testing procedures are outlined in Appendix 8-A of the Infiltration Design Specification (No. 8). A minimum of one test must be taken per 1,000 sq. ft. of planned permeable pavement surface area. In most cases, a single soil test is sufficient for micro-scale and small-scale applications. At least one soil boring must be taken to confirm the underlying soil properties at the depth where infiltration is designed to occur (i.e., to ensure that the depth to water table, depth to bedrock, or karst is defined). Soil infiltration testing should be conducted within any confining layers that are found within 4 feet of the bottom of a proposed permeable pavement system.

6.3. Type of Surface Pavement

The type of pavement should be selected based on a review of the factors in Table 7.2 above, and designed according to the product manufacturer's recommendations.

6.4. Internal Geometry and Drawdowns

6.5. Pretreatment

Pretreatment for most permeable pavement applications is not necessary, since the surface acts as pretreatment to the reservoir layer below. Additional pretreatment may be appropriate if the pavement receives run-on from an adjacent pervious or impervious area. For example, a gravel filter strip can be used to trap coarse sediment particles before they reach the permeable pavement surface, in order to prevent premature clogging.

6.6. Conveyance and Overflow

Permeable pavement designs should include methods to convey larger storms (e.g., 2-yr, 10-yr) to the storm drain system. The following is a list of methods that can be used to accomplish this:

6.7. Reservoir layer

The thickness of the reservoir layer is determined by runoff storage needs, the infiltration rate of in situ soils, structural requirements of the pavement sub-base, depth to water table and bedrock, and frost depth conditions (see Section 7). A professional should be consulted regarding the suitability of the soil subgrade.

6.8 Underdrains

The use of underdrains is recommended when there is a reasonable potential for infiltration rates to decrease over time, when underlying soils have an infiltration rate of less than 1/2-inch per hour, or when soils must be compacted to achieve a desired Proctor density. Underdrains can also be used to manage extreme storm events to keep detained stormwater from backing up into the permeable pavement.

6.9. Maintenance Reduction Features

Maintenance is a crucial element to ensure the long-term performance of permeable pavement. The most frequently cited maintenance problem is surface clogging caused by organic matter and sediment, which can be reduced by the following measures:

6.10. Material Specifications

Permeable pavement material specifications vary according to the specific pavement product selected. Table 7.5 describes general material specifications for the component structures installed beneath the permeable pavement. Note that the size of stone materials used in the reservoir and filter layers may differ depending whether the system is PC, PA or IP (see Table 7.2 above). A general comparison of different permeable pavements is provided in Table 7.6 below, but designers should consult manufacturer's technical specifications for specific criteria and guidance.

Table 7.5. Material Specifications for Underneath the Pavement Surface

Bedding Layer PC: None
PA: 2 in. depth of No. 8 stone
IP: 2 in. depth of No. 8 stone over 3 to 4 inches of No. 57
ASTM D448 size No. 8 stone (e.g. 3/8 to 3/16 inch in size). Should be double-washed and clean and free of all fines.
Reservoir Layer PC: No. 57 stone
PA: No. 2 stone
IP: No. 57 stone
ASTM D448 size No. 57 stone (e.g. 1 1/2 to 1/2 inch in size); No. 2 Stone (e.g. 3 inch to 3/4 inch in size). Depth is based on the pavement structural and hydraulic requirements. Should be double-washed and clean and free of all fines.
Underdrain Use 4 to 6 inch diameter perforated PVC (AASHTO M 252) pipe, with 3/8-inch perforations at 6 inches on center; each underdrain installed at a minimum 0.5% slope located 20 feet or less from the next pipe (or equivalent corrugated HDPE may be used for smaller load-bearing applications). Perforated pipe installed for the full length of the permeable pavement cell, and non-perforated pipe, as needed, is used to connect with the storm drain system. T's and Y's installed as needed, depending on the underdrain configuration. Extend cleanout pipes to the surface with vented caps at the Ts and Ys.
Filter Layer The underlying native soils should be separated from the stone reservoir by a thin, 2 to 4 inch layer of choker stone (e.g. No. 8) covered by a 6 to 8 inch layer of coarse sand (e.g. ASTM C 33, 0.02-0.04 inch). The sand should be placed between the stone reservoir and the choker stone, which should be placed on top of the underlying native soils.
Filter Fabric (optional) Use a needled, non-woven, polypropylene geotextile with Grab Tensile Strength equal to or greater than 120 lbs (ASTM D4632), with a Mullen Burst Strength equal to or greater than 225 lbs./sq. in. (ASTM D3786), with a Flow Rate greater than 125 gpm/sq. ft. (ASTM D4491), and an Apparent Opening Size (AOS) equivalent to a US # 70 or # 80 sieve (ASTM D4751). The geotextile AOS selection is based on the percent passing the No. 200 sieve in "A" Soil subgrade, using FHWA or AASHTO selection criteria.
Impermeable Liner Use a thirty mil (minimum) PVC Geomembrane liner covered by 8 to 12 oz./sq. yd.2 non-woven geotextile. NOTE: THIS IS USED ONLY FOR KARST REGIONS.
Observation Well Use a perforated 4 to 6 inch vertical PVC pipe (AASHTO M 252) with a lockable cap, installed flush with the surface.

Table 7.6. Different Permeable Pavement Specifications

Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavers
Surface open area: 5% to 15%.
Thickness: 3.125 inches for vehicles. Compressive strength: 55 Mpa. Open void fill media: aggregate
Must conform to ASTM C936 specifications. Reservoir layer required to support the structural load.
Concrete Grid Pavers
Open void content: 20% to 50%.
Thickness: 3.5 inches.
Compressive strength: 35 Mpa.
Open void fill media: aggregate, topsoil and grass, coarse sand.
Must conform to ASTM C 1319 specifications. Reservoir layer required to support the structural load.
Plastic Reinforced Grid Pavers

Void content: depends on fill material. Compressive strength: varies, depending on fill material.
Open void fill media: aggregate, topsoil and grass, coarse sand.

Reservoir layer required to support the structural load.
Pervious Concrete
Void content: 15% to 25 %.Thickness: typically 4 to 8 inches.
Compressive strength: 2.8 to 28 Mpa.
Open void fill media: None
May not require a reservoir layer to support the structural load, but a layer may be included to increase the storage or infiltration.
Porous Asphalt
Void content: 15% to 20 %.Thickness: typically 3 to 7 in. (depending on traffic load). Open void fill media: None. Reservoir layer required to support the structural load.


The design adaptations described below permit permeable pavement to be used on a wider range of sites. However, it is important not to force this practice onto marginal sites. Other runoff reduction practices are often preferred alternatives for difficult sites.

7.1. Karst Terrain

Karst terrain is found in much of the Ridge and Valley physiographic regions of Virginia. Karst complicates both land development and stormwater design. A detailed geotechnical investigation may be required for any kind of stormwater design in karst terrain (see CSN Technical Bulletin No. 1; and the Virginia SWM Handbook).

7.2. Coastal Plain

Experience in North Carolina has shown that properly designed and installed permeable pavement systems can work effectively in the demanding conditions of the coastal plain, if the following conditions are met:

7.3. Piedmont/Clay Soils

In areas where the underlying soils are not suitable for complete infiltration, permeable pavement systems with underdrains can still function effectively to reduce runoff volume and nutrient loads.

7.4. Cold Climate and Winter Performance

In cold climates and winter conditions, freeze-thaw cycles may affect the structural durability of the permeable pavement system. In these situations, the following design adaptations may be helpful:


Experience has shown that proper installation is absolutely critical to the effective operation of a permeable pavement system.

8.1 Necessary Erosion & Sediment Controls

8.2. Permeable Pavement Construction Sequence

The following is a typical construction sequence to properly install permeable pavement, which may need to be modified to depending on whether Porous Asphalt (PA), Pervious Concrete (PC) or Interlocking Paver (IP) designs are employed.

Step 1. Construction of the permeable pavement shall only begin after the entire contributing drainage area has been stabilized. The proposed site should be checked for existing utilities prior to any excavation. Do not install the system in rain or snow, and do not install frozen bedding materials.

Step 2. As noted above, temporary erosion and sediment (E&S) controls are needed during installation to divert stormwater away from the permeable pavement area until it is completed. Special protection measures such as erosion control fabrics may be needed to protect vulnerable side slopes from erosion during the excavation process. The proposed permeable pavement area must be kept free from sediment during the entire construction process. Construction materials that are contaminated by sediments must be removed and replaced with clean materials.

Step 3. Where possible, excavators or backhoes should work from the sides to excavate the reservoir layer to its appropriate design depth and dimensions. For micro-scale and small-scale pavement applications, excavating equipment should have arms with adequate extension so they do not have to work inside the footprint of the permeable pavement area (to avoid compaction). Contractors can utilize a cell construction approach, whereby the proposed permeable pavement area is split into 500 to 1000 sq. ft. temporary cells with a 10 to 15 foot earth bridge in between, so that cells can be excavated from the side. Excavated material should be placed away from the open excavation so as to not jeopardize the stability of the side walls.

Step 4. The native soils along the bottom and sides of the permeable pavement system should be scarified or tilled to a depth of 3 to 4 inches prior to the placement of the filter layer or filter fabric. In large scale paving applications with weak soils, the soil subgrade may need to be compacted to 95% of the Standard Proctor Density to achieve the desired load-bearing capacity. (NOTE: This effectively eliminates the infiltration function of the installation, and it must be addressed during hydrologic design.)

Step 5. Filter fabric should be installed on the bottom and the sides of the reservoir layer. In some cases, an alternative filter layer, as described in Section 8.6 may be warranted. Filter fabric strips should overlap down-slope by a minimum of 2 feet, and be secured a minimum of 4 feet beyond the edge of the excavation. Where the filter layer extends beyond the edge of the pavement (to convey runoff to the reservoir layer), install an additional layer of filter fabric 1 foot below the surface to prevent sediments from entering into the reservoir layer. Excess filter fabric should not be trimmed until the site is fully stabilized.

Step 6. Provide a minimum of 2 inches of aggregate above and below the underdrains. The underdrains should slope down towards the outlet at a grade of 0.5% or steeper. The up-gradient end of underdrains in the reservoir layer should be capped. Where an underdrain pipe is connected to a structure, there shall be no perforations within 1 foot of the structure. Ensure that there are no perforations in clean-outs and observation wells within 1 foot of the surface.

Step 7. Moisten and spread 6-inch lifts of the appropriate clean, washed stone aggregate (usually No. 2 or No. 57 stone). Place at least 4 inches of additional aggregate above the underdrain, and then compact it using a vibratory roller in static mode until there is no visible movement of the aggregate. Do not crush the aggregate with the roller.

Step 8. Install the desired depth of the bedding layer, depending on the type of pavement, as follows:

Step 9. Paving materials shall be installed in accordance with manufacturer or industry specifications for the particular type of pavement.

8.3. Construction Inspection

Inspections before, during and after construction are needed to ensure that permeable pavement is built in accordance with these specifications. Use detailed inspection checklists that require sign-offs by qualified individuals at critical stages of construction, to ensure that the contractor's interpretation of the plan is consistent with the designer's intent.

Some common pitfalls can be avoided by careful construction supervision that focuses on the following key aspects of permeable pavement installation:

It may be advisable to divert the runoff from the first few runoff-producing storms away from larger permeable pavement applications, particularly when up-gradient conventional asphalt areas drain to the permeable pavement. This can help reduce the input of fine particles that are often produced shortly after conventional asphalt is laid down.


9.1. Maintenance Agreements

Section 4 VAC 50-60-124 of the regulations specifies the circumstances under which a maintenance agreement must be executed between the owner and the local program. This section sets forth inspection requirements, compliance procedures if maintenance is neglected, notification of the local program upon transfer of ownership, and right-of-entry for local program personnel.

In addition, the maintenance agreements should also note which conventional parking lot maintenance tasks must be avoided (e.g., sanding, re-sealing, re-surfacing, power-washing). Signs should be posted on larger parking lots to indicate their stormwater function and special maintenance requirements.

When micro-scale or small-scale permeable pavement are installed on private residential lots, homeowners will need to (1) be educated about their routine maintenance needs, (2) understand the long-term maintenance plan, and (3) be subject to a deed restriction, drainage easement or other mechanism enforceable by the qualifying local program to help ensure that the permeable pavement system is maintained and functioning. The mechanism should, if possible, grant authority for local agencies to access the property for inspection or corrective action.

9.2. Maintenance Tasks

It is difficult to prescribe the specific types or frequency of maintenance tasks that are needed to maintain the hydrologic function of permeable pavement systems over time. Most installations work reasonably well year after year with little or no maintenance, whereas some have problems right from the start.

One preventative maintenance task for large-scale applications involves vacuum sweeping on a frequency consistent with the use and loadings encountered in the parking lot. Many consider an annual, dry-weather sweeping in the spring months to be important. The contract for sweeping should specify that a vacuum sweeper be used that does not use water spray, since spraying may lead to subsurface clogging. Vacuum settings for large-scale interlocking paver applications should be calibrated so they do not pick up the stones between pavement blocks.

9.3. Maintenance Inspections

It is highly recommended that a spring maintenance inspection and cleanup be conducted at each permeable pavement site, particularly at large-scale applications.

Maintenance of permeable pavement is driven by annual inspections that evaluate the condition and performance of the practice. The following are suggested annual maintenance inspection points for permeable pavements:

An example maintenance inspection checklist for Permeable Pavement can be accessed in Appendix C of Chapter 9 of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook (2010). Based on inspection results, specific maintenance tasks will be triggered and scheduled to keep the facility in operating condition.


Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Porous concrete and porous asphalt are generally considered to be ADA compliant. Most localities also consider interlocking concrete pavers to be complaint, if designers ensure that surface openings between pavers do not exceed 1/2 inch. However, some forms of interlocking pavers may not be suitable for handicapped parking spaces. Interlocking concrete pavers interspersed with other hardscape features (e.g., concrete walkways) can be used in creative designs to address ADA issues.

Groundwater Protection. While well-drained soils enhance the ability of permeable pavement to reduce stormwater runoff volumes, they may also increase the risk that stormwater pollutants might migrate into groundwater aquifers. Designers should avoid the use of infiltration-based permeable pavement in areas known to provide groundwater recharge to aquifers used for water supply. In these source water protection areas, designers should include liners and underdrains in large-scale permeable pavement applications (i.e., when the proposed surface area exceeds 10,000 square feet).

Stormwater Hotspots. Designers should also certify that the proposed permeable pavement area will not accept any runoff from a severe stormwater hotspot. Stormwater hotspots are operations or activities that are known to produce higher concentrations of stormwater pollutants and/or have a greater risk of spills, leaks or illicit discharges. Examples include certain industrial activities, gas stations, public works areas, petroleum storage areas (for a complete list of hotspots where infiltration is restricted or prohibited, see Stormwater Design Specification No. 8: Infiltration). For potential hotspots, restricted infiltration means that a minimum of 50% of the total Tv must be treated by a filtering or bioretention practice prior to the permeable pavement system. For known severe hotspots, the risk of groundwater contamination from spills, leaks or discharges is so great that infiltration of stormwater or snowmelt through permeable pavement is prohibited.

Underground Injection Control Permits. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulates the infiltration of stormwater in certain situations pursuant to the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, which is administered either by the EPA or a delegated state groundwater protection agency. In general, the EPA (2008) has determined that permeable pavement installations are not classified as Class V injection wells, since they are always wider than they are deep. There may be an exception in karst terrain if the discharge from permeable pavement is directed to an improved sinkhole, although this would be uncommon. More guidance on stormwater design in karst terrain can be found in CSN Technical Bulletin No. 1 (2008), and Appendix 6-C of Chapter 6 of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook (2010).

Cold Climate or Winter Time Operation. Experience has shown that permeable pavement can operate properly in snow and ice conditions, and there is evidence that a permeable surface increases meltwater rates compared to conventional pavement (thereby reducing the need for deicing chemicals). However, in larger parking lot applications certain snow management practices need to be modified to maintain the hydrologic function of the permeable pavement. These include not applying sand for traction and educating snowplow operators to keep blades from damaging the pavement surface. The jointing material for interlocking concrete paver systems (typically No. 8 stone) can be spread over surface ice to increase tire traction.

Air and Runoff Temperature. Permeable pavement appears to have some value in reducing summer runoff temperatures, which can be important in watersheds with sensitive cold-water fish populations. The temperature reduction effect is greatest when runoff is infiltrated into the sub-base, but some cooling may also occur in the reservoir layer, when underdrains are used. ICPI (2008) notes that the use of certain reflective colors for interlocking concrete pavers can also help moderate surface parking lot temperatures.

Vehicle Safety. Permeable pavement is generally considered to be a safer surface than conventional pavement, according to research reported by Smith (2006), Jackson (2007) and ACI (2008). Permeable pavement has less risk of hydroplaning, more rapid ice melt and better traction than conventional pavement.


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