May 15, 2020

San Antonio’s Famous Pearl District Includes Permeable Pavement & Water Filtration System to Manage Stormwater On-Site

GEOPAVE Porous Pavement System prior to aggregate infill.
GEOPAVE Porous Pavement System prior to aggregate infill.

Project Background

What started as a project to preserve the historic Pearl Brewery building in San Antonio, Texas, turned into the development of a mixed-use retail/residential complex and entertainment district known as The Pearl. The developers had a strong desire to preserve the history of the brewery while creating an eco-friendly and sustainable destination near the heart of Downtown San Antonio. Project leaders considered the following requirements when planning the transformation of the historic Pearl Brewery site:

  • Sustainable site access: Planners required that the site be easily accessible by foot and bicycle. They also wanted the development to be positioned close to public transportation in an effort to limit emissions.
  • Efficient use of water and energy: They sought to integrate the use of recycled and captured rainwater, along with low-water landscaping, energy-efficient windows and insulation.
  • Use of sustainable construction materials: Planners required the use of materials containing a high percentage of recycled content.

Preserving History & Sustainability

In keeping with these environmental goals, a permeable pavement/water collection and filtration system was designed for an access way to the Pearl’s Hotel Emma. The highly permeable GEOPAVE® Gravel Pavement System situated above a sand filtration system provided a way for water to infiltrate at its source in the motor court and be treated and controlled before its release into the adjacent San Antonio River.

One-Two Punch for Managing Stormwater; Eliminating Point Source Pollution

The GEOPAVE system was used in conjunction with the Environmental Passive Integrated Chamber (EPIC) system. The combination of GEOPAVE pavers with highly permeable, open-graded aggregate at the pavement surface and the EPIC collection chamber underneath to collect and treat the water before releasing it delivered a complete on-site stormwater system. The EPIC system captures rain during storm events and stores it for use during drier times. Through natural sand filtration, the system removes 70-85% of the suspended solids and up to 35% of pathogens, creating healthier water for irrigation and discharge into waterways, virtually eliminating Point Source Pollution. The overall system’s efficient, fast infiltration and on-site treatment eliminated the need for additional storm drainage infrastructure or ponds.

GEOPAVE Porous Pavement System after installation with aggregate infill.
 GEOPAVE Porous Pavement System after installation with aggregate infill.

How GEOPAVE® Pavers Work

The GEOPAVE pavers confine open-graded aggregate, delivering high rates of infiltration to minimize stormwater runoff. Water flows through the pavement layer into the stormwater retention base layer for storage and natural percolation. The GEOPAVE system’s molded mesh bottom keeps aggregate from moving, even under high vehicle traffic and offers a stiff resistance to loading stresses.

The Results

The Pearl Brewery Development has been recognized as one of America’s top green developments. The Pearl is registered with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and achieved Gold Level certification.

Presto Geosystems


670 N Perkins Street

PO Box 2399

Appleton, WI 54912

United States

Phone: 800-548-3424