Permeable Pavement to help save the Olentangy River

The Olentangy River has seen better days, especially after storm events. This is due to the combined sewer system around campus that can cause sanitary sewer waste to spill into the river during these strong rain events.

The sewer system can’t store all the rainwater and discharges into the river. Impervious surfaces like parking spaces and streets cause water to run off quickly and unhindered. The water absorbs the pollution accumulated on these surfaces and brings it into the Olentangy as well. This damages the ecosystem and water quality of the Olentangy River.

The Ohio State University recognizes that it contributes to the problem, because the Olentangy runs through the campus, and thus the university designed the Framework Plan to be part of the solution.

Impervious surface on the OSU Columbus campus

The Framework Plan is designed to reduce the university’s ecological footprint on the Olentangy River. It also plans to concentrate the academic buildings in central campus. This would be a perfect opportunity to renovate streets and parking spaces. The costs for permeable pavement will be higher than traditional asphalt but the benefits for the river and people living downstream would be immense.

The city of Columbus plans to spend $2.5 billion to combat combined sewer overflow. Some of that money should be spent on permeable pavement. Studies have shown that runoff can be reduced by up to 90 percent by implementing permeable pavement.

These photos from the Chicago Department of Transportation show an alley that experienced frequent flooding before being reconstructed with porous pavers in 2006. Photos used with permission.

The 17th Avenue reconstruction already uses some permeable pavement, but we, the Permeable Pavement Research Group of this quarter’s ENR 567 class, believe that the university can do better. This should be done for the Olentangy River, Columbus, and all the people living downstream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *