Too much pavement. That was one of the oft-cited reasons Houston flooded so badly during Harvey – and why it seems to flood so easily during other times of heavy rain.
The next logical conclusion is to pave over less of our green space, right?
Well, yeah. But even if we dramatically expanded light rail and thousands of additional Houstonians committed to taking the bus, we're still in this massive, heavily-populated metropolitan area that continues to grow and still needs lots of roads and parking lots and sidewalks. And that means pavement.
So, what do we do — are we stuck in this cycle forever?
Not necessarily. There is, after all, permeable pavement — roads, driveways, parking lots, and walkways paved with materials that allow water to seep down into the soil below, keeping them from overwhelming storm drains during heavy rains.
Houston construction company Piper Whitney specializes in those materials, from concrete, to bricks, to artificial grass.
In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty visits with co-founders Kryshon and Michael Bratton to find out how permeable pavement works and the challenges and potential limitations of using those materials more often.