Town workers used a backhoe this week to rip up pavement and dig soil from a parking space on Ford Avenue beside Bill Johnstone Memorial Park. Then, they filled the hole with gravel to prepare for the installation of permeable asphalt that allows water to seep through it unlike the conventional kind that directs rain water into storm drains.
The “depaving” project was sponsored by EOS Eco-Energy, the non-profit group that promotes community-based ways of fighting climate change while adapting to it. The town contributed the preparation needed, while EOS and its other funding partners are paying Dexter Construction around $5,000 to install about 10 tonnes of the permeable asphalt.
On Tuesday, EOS Watershed Co-ordinator Kelli-Nicole Croucher conducted tours of the project for more than 50 government officials, planners and members of environmental groups who were visiting Sackville as part of a “learning day” on climate adaptation organized by the New Brunswick Environmental Network and paid for by the federal and provincial governments.
As the new permeable asphalt went down on Wednesday, Croucher said she was excited to see Sackville’s first installation of it.
“It will allow the water cycle to continue as it should,” she said. “The water can infiltrate down into the ground so it’s recharging ground water and the one-metre fill that’s under this permeable asphalt also acts as a filter, so it’s actually removing contaminants and any pollutants,” she added.
“Once that water is entering the groundwater or going into the storm sewer system and then out to our water bodies, it’s actually improved,” Croucher said, adding that the filtered water helps maintain the health of the watershed.
She said EOS chose this particular spot for its permeable asphalt pilot project because water pools on the surface here during rain storms.
Croucher acknowledges that at the moment, permeable asphalt is more expensive than the conventional kind, but says the project is both a test to see how it works as well as a demonstration project for public viewing.
“We’re expecting a lot of rain tomorrow, so it will be great to see how it performs right off the bat,” she said, referring to the Thursday forecast predicting steady rain.
Croucher says EOS and the town will monitor the new asphalt for a year to see how well it works.
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