It didn’t take long to start seeing the positive results of a pilot project that aims to mitigate flooding in Sackville. With the rain falling on Thursday, only one day after EOS Eco-Energy launched the town’s first-ever ‘depaving’ project, it was evident that the permeable asphalt was doing its job – and allowing the stormwater to infiltrate into the soil and into the reservoir below.
“It was seeping right down into the ground right away,” said Kelli-Nicole Croucher, watershed coordinator with EOS Eco-Energy.
Croucher said the new project is part of EOS’ overall programming that focuses on rainwater. And even though the project is small, the Sackville-based sustainability group is hoping that it will show how beneficial these types of activities can be when it comes to mitigating floods and improving water quality.
The location selected for the depaving project was a parking space alongside the Bill Johnstone Memorial Park, in behind the post office.
“That parking spot was in disrepair so we needed to do something there anyway,” said town engineer Dwayne Acton.
Acton said the town jumped at the opportunity to partner with EOS on this pilot project - the organization was looking for a test site and the municipality knew this location was a good fit for what they wanted to do.
“It just made sense.”
Croucher agreed with Acton, saying the parking space didn’t do well with surface runoff and had issues that needed addressed.
“That spot in particular had noticeable pooling issues,” she said. “So this will allow the water instead to infiltrate though the pavement.”
The town also provided in-kind work on the project, removing the existing asphalt, installing a perforated drain pipe and weeping tiles, as well as laying down a one-metre thick layer of drainage stone fill that will help filter the rainwater going into the ground below.
Dexter Construction then came on Wednesday to install the permeable asphalt. Croucher said it’s not a product that’s widely available at this time in Atlantic Canada so the cost is higher than typical asphalt – for the 335-square foot parking spot, the pricetag came in at about $5,000.
She said Dexter doesn’t currently have the equipment to mix the permeable asphalt here in southeast New Brunswick so it was made in Saint John. But she noted that if interest continues to rise for larger-scale projects in the area, the company would consider moving some equipment to its Moncton or Amherst sites.
Croucher explained that when water hits impervious surfaces such as asphalt pavement and concrete, it is unable to enter the ground water system. And this causes rain and meltwater to run into storm sewers and local waterways. She said this runoff water can carry pollutants such as oil, pesticides and plastics.
So depaving allows water instead to naturally enter the soil, she said.
“The permeable pavement absorbs the rainwater so it’s reducing the risk of flooding and it’s collecting the pollutants so it’s improving the water quality.”
Croucher said EOS and the town will monitor the site over the year and will not only determine if the pavement is effective in reducing runoff but also to see how it holds up to frost and heavy trucks.
“We look forward to working with EOS over the next year to monitor the performance of the material,” said Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager of corporate projects.
Burke said the town is always looking for ways to continue its efforts at being environmentally responsible “so to be able to test and evaluate this pilot project seemed like a win-win.”
He said the town has worked with EOS on a number of projects over the years – such as its climate change adaptation plan, rain gardens, the Partners for Climate Protection Program, the Chignecto Climate Change Collaborative, public awareness events and more – and “they are a really valuable asset to our community.”
EOS, an organization which works within the Memramcook-Tantramar region on ways to reduce and adapt to climate change, received grants from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Green Communities Canada, the Freshwater Alliance, and Our Living Waters for the project. The group also has funding for another depaving project next year although a site has yet to be determined.