An Excerpt of an Article about PaveDrain by Reed Hellman

Innovations for Managing Stormwater Runoff

By Reed Hellman, Staff Writer
December 5, 2011

Posted in: Green Solutions

Record rainfall during this past spring and summer has served to point out the urgent need for managing stormwater runoff to improve water quality. The two interrelated issues are part of Smart, Green & Growing, an initiative introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2008 to foster a smarter, greener, more sustainable future for Maryland.

“We’ve got to have clean water,” stated Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers at the recent Clean Water Innovations Trade Show. “It really is the foundation of our economic health.

“The Chesapeake Bay is the geographic and economic center of our state. Our public health and economic health depend on clean water — it’s absolutely critical to our future,” he said.

Summers went on to say that most of the state’s urban areas were not designed with stormwater control plans and that restoring the Chesapeake Bay also protects groundwater and drinking water.

Seeking Solutions

Businesses, together with local governments, developers and other stakeholders, are working to find cost-effective and efficient ways to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and improve water quality. That push to enhance regional water quality has led to the development of a range of techniques, products and technologies.

Traditional impermeable pavements can create destructive, often toxic runoff. PaveDrain, a permeable articulating mat of concrete blocks marketed by Ernest Maier Inc., a Bladensburg masonry block manufacturer, creates an aesthetic and durable pavement integrated with a stone reservoir underneath that temporarily stores surface stormwater runoff and allows it to percolate into the subsoil. Gaps between the blocks channel the runoff and the block’s arched shape creates a reservoir for increased storage during heavy runoff events.

The system promotes a more natural, vertical infiltration path, recharges local groundwater, reduces first flush pollutants and filters out suspended sediments, according to the company.

Flexible Mats Provide Life-Cycle Savings

PaveDrain’s durability and savings in life-cycle stormwater management expenses can make it a very cost-effective alternative to traditional pavements. The flexible mats can be pre-assembled in a variety of configurations or customized for specific applications. Installation requires only conventional construction equipment.

Green Incentives Provide Catalyst For Ford’s Drainage And Pavement Upgrade

Source: Luckett & Farley, by Adam Meyer, PE, LEED AP


Doug Buch, PaveDrain, (414) 423-6531
Brendan Quinn, Ernest Maier Block, (301) 927-8300

Hitch in the Giddy Up

What do you mean there are no catch basins in the entire parking lot?!

Ford Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) Ford Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP)

This predicament at the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) was more than troubling to a Luckett & Farley engineer. It was puzzling.

So then how does-? You mean all the rain just-? And so that’s why the pavement is so-? Eeeek.

It was the reaction I always imagine the Spartans had upon seeing Xerxes’ vast army: “What have we got ourselves into?”

Since moving to its current location off Fern Valley Rd. in 1955, the Ford Motor Company has expanded to nearly 3.2 million square feet on 400 acres. It is now the home to the next generation of Ford Escapes, and has undergone a $600 million renovation to transform it into the “most flexible automotive assembly operation in the world. “Not only is it now one of the most high-tech facilities in all the land, but it may also have the largest installation of over-sized trench drains ever seen. (Note: not yet confirmed, but the jury is still out if you ask us!)

That is because aside from the facelift and complete retooling, there was the matter of rehabilitating, restriping, and reorganizing their parking lots – all 2,000,000 SF of them. Though a daunting task on its own, the mission elevated even further when it was evident that fixing the drainage (and therefore failing pavement) would be out of the budget’s reach. All of the lots needed resurfacing and they needed to last. A Civil Engineer’s dream (er, nightmare?) Conditions: A flat site, limited funding, a challenging solution, and a brand spanking new toy.

Enter PaveDrain pervious articulated mat paving, and the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District’s (MSD) Green Infrastructure Incentives Program. Hmm – that didn’t quite roll off the tongue like I had hoped for, but alas, I’m an engineer.

The Spark Plug

Easy installation of PaveDrain articulating mat being lowered into position Easy installation of PaveDrain articulating mat being lowered into position

Beginning in the summer of 2011, MSD began a pilot program to incentivize Louisville property owners to install Green Infrastructure applications that could handle the stormwater that falls on their site. (See: Rain Gardens, Pervious Pavement, Rainwater Harvesting, et al). Finding themselves in a no-fault Consent Decree settlement with the U.S. EPA, MSD saw an opportunity to fix the community’s Combined Sewer problem while also jump-starting economic development. The basis of the Program comes down to this: Businesses can either fix their flooding problems for little-to-no additional cost, or choose not to. The Ford Louisville Assembly Plant decided to do the former. Working with MSD staff, Luckett & Farley help Ford secure a nearly $1.3 million incentive stipend if the pavement restoration project included sufficient Green Infrastructure. That task wasn’t exactly simple though. The other side of the deal required Ford to store 533,000 gallons of rain in the parking lot on any given day – in a floodplain. Though the numbers and technical data all said it could be done, the school of construction thought still gave us all pause.

We are going to need an Olympic-size swimming pool out there!

Yep, that’s about right.

The Keys to Success

In the long history of Luckett & Farley’s existence (happily Over-the-Hill at 160 years!), there have been countless designs for sustainable drainage improvements at an existing site. Pervious concrete/pavers, underground storage, and detention/retention systems have all been done before, but this was different. We needed something HUGE, shallow, and cost-effective. It needed to serve as a drainage feature, a pavement solution, is quick to install, and not require any special training or equipment. Those conditions were all met with a new-to-market product called PaveDrain, the permeable articulated block mat paving system. Think of a bunch of concrete Legos that are strung together in a rectangular fashion. There’s no grout/mortar/gravel chips, no curing time, no rolling, or extensive cutting. Along with a low-profile (2″ Tall) drain tile, Luckett & Farley engineers designed 25 installations of shallow pits (think swimming pools!) filled with gravel as PaveDrain let stormwater flow through on top. The result is an underground storage system that allows the 1″ Rainfall Event to never leave the Ford property. More than 855,000 SF of pavement is being collected by the PaveDrain installations. The water will eventually infiltrate into the soil, providing for additional capacity in the MSD sewer system and therefore reduce the possibility of a flooding event in the downstream communities. In addition, the employee parking area now drains effectively and will last far longer than standard asphalt pavement.

In a sense, the parking lot went from no catch basins to having more than 86,000 SF of them. Talk about a real “EcoBoost!”

PaveDrain installation: The finished product PaveDrain installation: The finished product

PaveDrain System Passes ASTM C1701/C1701M-09

“WMA has reviewed your recent submittal and concurs that the results of recent independent testing conducted in accordance with ASTM C1701/C1701M-09 demonstrate that the PaveDrain® paver meets the surface permeability criterion.”

Based on the test results, it is our opinion that the infiltration rate of the PaveDrain System is a minimum of 4,000 inches per hour.

Inside Diameter of Infiltration Ring (in) 12.5 12.5
Elapsed Time of Test (sec) 7.3 7.8
Infiltration Rate (in/hr) (l=KM/(D2*t)) 4449.1 4163.9
Average Infiltration Rate (in/hr) 4306.5


O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

By Greg Masters, Published: March 10 in THE WASHINGTON POST

O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

What Gov. Martin O’Malley billed as a 100 percent increaseto most Maryland residents’ “flush tax” would become a 150 percent increase under a new proposal his administration is discussing with lawmakers.Instead of a levy based on water consumption, O’Malley (D) is now pushing a flat fee that would be more regressive, hitting low-, middle- and high-income earners nearly equally.

The change marks a reversal for O’Malley, who in touting his original plan said it was unfair to make a widow in Baltimore pay the same amount as the owner of a mansion. But after hearing from business associations and other opponents, O’Malley concluded that his plan was unworkable.

The amended bill would increase the yearly cost of nearly every resident’s flush tax – which is used to restore the Chesapeake Bay – to $75 from $30. Households that receive public assistance, such as food stamps or supplemental security income, or otherwise qualify as low-income generally would be exempt from paying the fee.

It is the second of the governor’s tax proposals that he envisioned as progressive only to see it emerge from negotiations with legislators as an across-the-board increase.

In Senate budget committee negotiations, O’Malley’s plan to cap exemptions and deductions for high-income earners was reworked into a proposal to increase most filers’ income taxes by a quarter of a percent. The budget must go through the House of Delegates, where the progressive approach appears to have more support.

The setbacks for the governor underscore the practical and political obstacles he has faced in trying to craft a package of tax increases that would fall more heavily on the higher earners.

Another fee on residents could result from O’Malley’s plan to subsidize offshore wind power, with residential ratepayers potentially paying $2 more per month in 2017.

Combined, the flush tax and the wind subsidy would add nearly $100 in annual fees for most Marylanders.

Robert M. Summers, secretary of the Department of the Environment, said the push for a consumption-based flush tax was abandoned partly to assuage the concerns of businesses.

Summers said “a number of folks have raised concerns about the progressive fee being a little too impactful on small businesses” that use a large amount of water. The “complexity” of moving from a flat fee to a consumption-based fee was another factor in the change, he said.

Pitching his original plan to lawmakers in February, O’Malley said those who use the least amount of water could even see their flush tax decrease from its monthly flat rate of $2.50.

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 11 percent of households in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties use fewer than 2,000 gallons of water per month, and those residents would have paid a monthly fee of $1.80 or less.

Under the original proposal, the 31 percent of households in those counties that use between 2,000 and 4,000 gallons monthly would have paid between $1.80 and $4.30 per month – still less than the flat monthly fee of $6.25 being considered.

And users of septic systems, which are not metered for water use, would have seen rates double to $5 per month. The new plan would put their rate, like everyone else’s, at $6.25 per month.

But heavy users would have paid significantly more under the original plan. The 12 percent of Prince George’s and Montgomery County households that use more than 8,000 gallons of water monthly would have paid at least $9.30 a month.

And many restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses would have seen their fees more than triple. According to legislative analysts, the original bill could have resulted in “a meaningful adverse impact” on them.

Summers said the increase in revenue that would be brought in under the revised plan is “not significantly more” than the one O’Malley originally sought. While the first plan sought to double revenue, the new one “will produce 2.5 times the revenue,” Summers said.

The proposed $6.25 is “just another $1.25″ over what a doubling of the current fee would be, Summers said, adding that the burden on higher water users and small businesses would be smaller because the fee would not be progressive.

O’Malley has said an increase to the flush tax is necessary to cover shortfalls in funding for upgrades to the state’s wastewater treatment plants. Summers said the extra $1.25, rather than being spent on those upgrades, would go toward street retrofitting to help municipalities meet federal mandates to reduce pollution runoff to the bay.