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Even landscape masonry contractors who’ve never installed a fountain are going to find plenty of wet work in the future. The reason: stormwater.

It’s a rare municipality today that simply allows storm runoff (especially from large commercial projects) to just meander offsite to overburdened waste-treatment systems or local waterways. And, some traditional options for onsite management – such as retention basins – fall out of favor as land prices increase.

marq2 DSC 3844 904Click photo to enlargeGiven the right design and contractor, a pervious pavement system is a better option, allowing the water to percolate down to the water table or be recovered for future treatment or gray-water use. The systems often require some different thinking about costs in commercial developments.

However, in an era where more individuals are going green, pervious – also called permeable – pavement can also offer an attractive option for some homeowners trying to be water-conscious on their own property.

Showers and storms may be the lifeblood of rural areas. But, in an urban landscape, it’s a hard rain that’s going to fall on the landscape ... and the economics of development.

WORK IN PROGRESS

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stormwater flowing off parking lots and down city streets contains a mix of sediments, petroleum products, chemicals/pesticides, salt, heavy metals from roofs, and bacteria/viruses from pet excrement.

Although the nation’s water is cleaner overall than in the days before the EPA cracked down on wastewater treatment, that rain – depending on the location and the body of water it flows into – can sicken swimmers, poison fish and wildlife, or overload it with nutrients that encourage unwanted plant and algae growth.  

The federal agency is now getting serious about cutting down on stormwater pollution. In most cases, the EPA lets the various states determine the best way to deal with this unwanted runoff, although it’s also in the process of developing new national rules by the end of next year.

Current work in stormwater control is a work in progress, according to A. Jeffrey Sholly, a township engineer based in York, Pa. Sholly says the Keystone State is looking at having no more volume of runoff into creeks post-development than existed with bare property.