Hydraulic, water-quality, and temperature performance of three types of permeable pavement under high sediment loading conditions

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5037




Three permeable pavement surfaces - asphalt (PA), concrete (PC), and interlocking pavers (PIP) - were evaluated side-by-side to measure changes to the infiltrative capacity and water quality of stormwater runoff originating from a conventional asphalt parking lot in Madison, Wisconsin. During the 24-month monitoring period (2014-16), all three permeable pavements resulted in statistically significant reductions in the cumulative load of solids (total suspended solids and suspended sediment), total phosphorus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Enterococci. Most of the removal occurred through capture and retention in the void spaces of each permeable surface and aggregate base. The largest reduction in total suspended solids was for PC at 80 percent, followed by PIP and PA at 69 and 65 percent, respectively. Reductions (generally less than 50 percent) in total phosphorus also were observed, which might have been tempered by increases in the dissolved fraction observed in PIP and PA. Conversely, PC results indicated a slight reduction in dissolved phosphorus but failed to meet statistical significance. E. coli and Enterococci were reduced by about 80 percent for PC, almost twice the amount observed for PIP and PA.

Results for the PIP and PC surfaces initially indicated higher pollutant load reduction than results for the PA surface. The efficiency of PIP and PC surfaces capturing sediment, however, led to a decline in infiltration rates that resulted in more runoff flowing over, not through, the permeable surface. This result led to a decline in treatment until the permeable surface was partially restored through maintenance practices, to which PIP responded more dramatically than PC or PA. Conversely, the PA surface was capable of infiltrating most of the influent runoff volume during the monitoring period and, thus, continued to provide some level of treatment. The combined effect of underdrain and overflow drainage resulted in similar pollutant treatment for all three permeable surfaces.

Temperatures below each permeable surface generally followed changes in air temperature with a more gradual response observed in deeper layers. Therefore, permeable pavement may do little to mitigate heated runoff during summer. During winter, deeper layers remained above freezing even when air temperature was below freezing. Although temperatures were not high enough to melt snow or ice accumulated on the surface, temperatures below each permeable pavement did allow void spaces to remain open, which promoted infiltration of melted ice and snow as air temperatures rose above freezing. These open void spaces could potentially reduce the need for application of deicing agents in winter because melted snow and ice would infiltrate, thereby preventing refreezing of pooled water in what is known as the “black ice” effect.

Suggested Citation

Selbig, W.R., and Buer, Nicolas, 2018, Hydraulic, water-quality, and temperature performance of three types of permeable pavement under high sediment loading conditions: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5037, 44 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Site Description
  • Methods of Data Collection
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control
  • Comparison of Hydraulic Performance
  • Comparison of Temperature
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydraulic, water-quality, and temperature performance of three types of permeable pavement under high sediment loading conditions
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
Report: ix, 44 p.; Data Release
United States
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):