Many people in the U.S. think that have it made when they live on a street with curb and gutter. But have you ever thought where that water goes? Often snow melt and rainwater that falls on streets, driveways and yards, simply goes down the drain to the nearest stream, river or lake. Carrying with it fertilizers, soil and other organic materials that damages and pollutes where we want to swim, fish and get our drinking water from!

There is a trend toward stopping water from running off, both in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. However, Puerto Rico is really showing how it can be done cost effectively. Puerto Rico understands that clean ocean water is important to tourism and clean fresh water is vital for its citizens. By eliminating curb and gutter, water that falls on and along roads can simply be left to slowly soak into the ground. This recharges ground water, provides water for nearby plants, significantly reduces erosion and does not require the constant maintenance of infrastructure to move and dispose of what is really good quality water.

In this picture a newly constructed gravel road in Puerto Rico has a “speed bump” that stops water from washing out the road as it comes downhill. The coarse gravel in the road allows rainfall to soak in and the concrete edges hold the gravel in place. Water from up hill and the road goes to small ponds on either side of the road where water can soak in. This road had just been completed and you can see by the color of the water that the pond on the right intercepted a large amount of suspended clay particles that would have otherwise gone into the ocean that is just a short distance away.