Two young companies partner to develop a cement paver for municipalities and landowners to handle massive amounts of stormwater while cleaning it.

By: Meghan Jensen, VP Marketing & Communications for The Water Council





Through the support of Wells Fargo, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), and Fund for Lake Michigan, The Water Council developed the Pilot Program, an initiative supporting the progression of new water technologies from the lab to real world demonstration sites for practical application. The Pilot Program provides support and funding to businesses of all sizes to help develop and validate new, cutting-edge products from prototype to small-scale production and manufacturing. Selected projects must address integrated water solutions through innovation, application, and demonstration while maintaining a cost-efficient, scalable, and deployable model.

I recently spent some time with our two 2017 winners to learn more about the products they’ll be working on through the Pilot Program. The first winner is PaveDrain in partnership with MetaMateria.


MJ – I’m with Doug Buch of PaveDrain, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and The Water Council couldn’t be more excited for you. Congratulations on winning the 2017 Pilot Program! You’ve been intensely busy these last few months. I recently described your product to an international delegation visiting Milwaukee as “a cement block that slows down the stormwater runoff to help avoid flooding.” What is PaveDrain and what is the new product you’ll be piloting?

Doug – The PaveDrain® system is a permeable paving surface that provides installation ease and design flexibility for owners, engineers and contractors. The joints between the blocks are left open for an unprecedented infiltration rate and easy maintenance with conventional street vacuuming equipment. It is manufactured throughout the U.S. and is available in colors, is ADA compliant and AASHTO HS-25 Load rated.

The new product we’ll be working on through the Pilot Program is a combination of two proven products and systems; PaveDrain and MetaMateria’s PO4-Sponge, made in a panel shape that can be removed, regenerated, and reused. The PaveDrain system has been installed on private and public projects for almost 8 years and has been installed throughout Wisconsin, and the U.S. MetaMateria’s PO4-Sponge has been in the works for over 6 years in the phosphorous removing market focusing mostly on point source (municipal and industrial) applications.

MJ – MetaMateria is currently participating in a different program that The Water Council operates, the BREW Accelerator, and are based in Columbus, Ohio. Tell me about your “ah-ha” moment of when the partnership between PaveDrain and MetaMateria was first conceived.  

Doug – PaveDrain and MetaMateria were invited to present in the Innovation Pavilion at WEFTEC 2016 in New Orleans. Shortly after MetaMateria’s presentation, I approached Tim Marth, VP of Business Development for MetaMateria, about their market in removing phosphorous from stormwater runoff. Tim indicated that they had recently been encouraged to target the stormwater market, and were just getting underway, but were struggling where to start.

Perfect timing.

Prior to WEFTEC 2016, I had been looking for a material, product or system that could be incorporated with the PaveDrain system for phosphorous removal. PaveDrain is known for its ability to infiltrate massive amounts of water, but the traditional aggregate bedding layers have shown to lack the water quality benefits that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is looking for.

We’re confident that the combination of the two products can be incorporated into a repeatable, maintainable solution for municipalities and land owners throughout Wisconsin. The Pilot Program will provide a great opportunity to demonstrate and refine our designs to accomplish this.

MJ – The Innovation Pavilion at WEFTEC sounds like the place to be. It’s great hearing about the first time your businesses connected, and how quickly you seized on the opportunity. What are you most looking forward to throughout the Pilot Program?

Doug – Building on existing relationships in the Southeast Wisconsin area (i.e. municipalities and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District) and showing and proving what these two technologies can do together. There is a significant divide within the Wisconsin DNR between water quantity (i.e. volume) and water quality (i.e. cleanliness). Why not take care of both?!?! If we can bridge this divide and show what we can do, it will be a pretty powerful message.

MJ – What do you hope to achieve once you’ve completed the Pilot Program?

Doug – Prove that two extremely different (but successful) technologies can be combined for stormwater quantity AND quality by removing phosphorous in municipal and private applications. With our nationwide manufacturing and distribution network we think we can repeat this around the U.S.

See PaveDrain in action in this fire truck drainage test.


Through the promotion of local development and support of our partners, The Water Council is able to accelerate the deployment of technologies needed to solve problems, create new business, and improve water quality and quantity on a regional and global scale. An opportunity to connect with these companies and other water startups, is at our upcoming Water Leaders Summit 2017 May 23-24 in Milwaukee, where we’ll be hosting big-picture conversations surrounding our theme “A Secure Future Needs Water.”

For more about PaveDrain, visit, and MetaMateria, visit


This post was tagged under: Fund for Lake Michigan, MetaMateria, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, PaveDrain, Pilot Program, Wells Fargo