It's finally winter in Northeast Ohio and while snow may be covering your permeable paver parking lot and bioretention basins, that doesn't mean there aren't still maintenance considerations to be had.
#1 Do NOT! store snow in/on your stormwater control measures.
Get out and talk to your friendly plowing staff and let them know about the locations of any stormwater basins and permeable pavement. These are not designed for snow storage, and piled snow can cause compaction and clogging. Piling snow in and on stormwater control measures will decrease their functional life span and accelerate the non-routine maintenance costs of vacuuming, soil replenishment and soil replacement.
*If your company is expanding and looking to include bioretention and/or permeable pavement for stormwater treatment, make sure to communicate with your design engineer up front the need to include an alternative location for snow piling in winter.
#2 Less Salt Please!
While safety should be the number one concern, over use of salt can damage stormwater control measures and their vegetation and it raises in stream salinity.
Only apply salt where needed, sweep up extra salt, and don't apply below 15 F.
Permeable pavement may experience less ice due to infiltration of the pavement and the transfer of warmer air from the ground below so don't waste salt on these areas unless needed.
#3 Lift those plow blades!
If you have a permeable pavement surface, ensure that the plowing team either lifts the blade 0.5 inches above the surface and/or uses a blade with a rubber edge.
#4 No sand and cinders!
Don't apply sand or cinders to permeable pavement as this will clog the practice and prevent infiltration of stormwater.
#5 Use salt tolerant plants in areas bordering pavement where salt will be applied
If your turf buffer is dead every spring, and your bioretention plants are wilting, it is likely due to salt application. Consider the use of more tolerant native species when stabilizing next spring.
Using these winter maintenance tips should extend the functional life of your stormwater control measure and ensure it weathers our Northeast Ohio winters without unnecessary non-routine maintenance each spring.
Blog author: Elizabeth Hiser, Natural Resources Coordinator