Scott County

Georgetown shows off new eco-friendly parking lot

GEORGETOWN — No actual Rice Krispies were harmed in the construction of the new, environmentally friendly parking lot beside Georgetown’s Fire Station No. 3.

In fact, the portion of the lot that looks for all the world like a giant black Rice Krispie Treat goes by the considerably less appetizing name of “pervious concrete.”

And it might be a partial solution to stormwater runoff problems faced by Georgetown, Lexington and other cities.

Normally, when rain hits a parking lot, oil and other pollutants quickly run off into the nearest waterway.

But at the fire station, with all the rain in the last few days, the pipe that would take water from the lot to the nearest ditch is dry.

The parking lot is small — only 11 spaces on one-third of an acre — but there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

“It’s more than a parking lot,” said Eric W. Larson, Georgetown’s city engineer. “It’s a water-quality education center.”

Built with a $456,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, it is a first-in-Kentucky display of new technologies designed to give stormwater a natural treatment where it falls.In addition to the pervious concrete, portions of the parking lot are paved with porous asphalt and with concrete paving bricks that allow rain to soak through.

Beneath the parking lot are two types of storage containers that, combined, hold more than 70,000 gallons.

Water runs through the various paving materials into the containers, then soaks through a layer of crushed rock that the containers sit on.

There also are small rain gardens filled with native plants in the parking lot, and a rain garden and rain barrel next to the fire station.

All together, the lot is designed to contain a 100-year storm, or 6.7 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Sharing how the parking lot was constructed and how it works is part of the grant requirements.

CDP Engineers, the Lexington firm that created the design, held seven field days as the work progressed. The final one was Monday.

At one of the field days, a fire hose was turned on the parking lot. The water soaked in immediately.

Larson, the city engineer, said that signs will be put up in the lot explaining how the various technologies work.

The city also has a camera that it can lower into the storage tanks to make sure they are working properly. The University of Kentucky will measure water quantity and quality.

Larson plans to conduct tours for school kids and others. The idea, he said, is for this type of construction to become much more common.

“This is a step in the right direction to encourage developers and businesses to build this into their sites,” he said.