The Portland metropolitan region leads the nation in innovative solutions for managing stormwater. It’s common to see bioswales installed in curb strips across the city and traditional impervious pavement is more often being replaced with alternatives that allow stormwater to filter through the surface. So, it’s not surprising that last week the city of Portland hosted StormCon, an annual conference that draws stormwater management professionals from across the country to learn and share best practices and the latest developments in the field. The conference culminated with a tour of stormwater facilities at the Port of Portland and the Port of Vancouver.
In 2006, the Port of Portland installed just over 35 acres of porous pavement at Terminal 6 in North Portland when tenant, Auto Warehousing Company wanted to rapidly expand their existing vehicle import and storage operation. Their short timeframe set the stage for a creative solution involving a large-scale installation capable of infiltrating 100 percent of the stormwater from the new development on-site. Porous pavement allows stormwater to filter through the ground instead of conveying it through a system of drains, pipes and outfalls, improving water quality and allowing water to flow more slowly and naturally to a receiving waterbody. It is still a relatively new practice, compared to the traditional impervious paving common to the many ribbons of roadways and acres of parking lots across the country.
The StormCon tour, sponsored by Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, consisted of about 80 participants who visited Terminal 6 to witness first-hand that a well-constructed pervious pavement installation can function successfully in an industrial environment when matched with an appropriate site use. Due to its structure, porous pavement is not often used in industrial operations since it cannot as readily handle the impacts of heavy cargo and machinery. AWC’s auto storage lot was a great fit due to the primarily light passenger vehicles that move across its surface. The lot is visited by heavier trucks that load and haul the cars away to their destinations, and those loading areas were designed with stronger impervious pavement that drains to the pervious surfaces or to adjacent vegetated swales.
To function properly over time, a porous pavement installation must be thoughtfully constructed and maintained. “I’ve been observing how the facility pavement functions for almost a decade now and it performs as well today as it did when I first visited the site in 2007,” said tour sponsor and stormwater practice leader for Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Ross Dunning. “The T-6 installation is a shining example of low impact development done right and the most successful permeable pavement installation I’ve ever seen.”
Tour participants were treated to a demonstration of the installation’s effectiveness by Richard Vincent, senior environmental planner for the Port of Portland, which can be viewed in the video below.