EPA helps bring permeable pavers to streets of San Francisco

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency; CP staff

By Don Marsh

EPA’s latest endorsement of pervious or permeable concrete pavements is reflected in a $492,000 grant funding nearly a third of San Francisco’s Newcomb Model Block Streetscape Improvement Project. Mayor Edwin Lee and EPA Pacific Southwest Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld staged a mid-May groundbreaking at the site, where removal of old concrete and asphalt will make room for 13,000 square feet of pervious concrete pavers in roadway parking lanes and sidewalk landscape strips.

Scheduled for completion by September, the paver installation, coupled with sidewalk and landscaping work, will improve stormwater management, pedestrian accommodations and streetscapes. “[They] will enhance and beautify the block, create a safe gathering public space for residents, and transform concrete into an urban oasis that functions with the natural systems of the landscape,” says Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin.

EPA’s contribution to the $1.6 million Newcomb Streetscape is provided under the San Francisco Bay water quality competitive grant program, currently supporting 31 projects, involving 37 partners and leveraging nearly $20 million. Low impact development tools mimic natural hydrologic conditions, the agency notes, and include increasing permeable, vegetated areas to assist the infiltration and “evapotranspiration” of stormwater—minimizing runoff discharge volumes. The San Francisco project is concurrent with a long-term study at the EPA Region 2 office in New Jersey, where agency officials are measuring stormwater management performance of a parking lot with permeable concrete paver, pervious concrete and pervious asphalt sections.