Saugeen Rail Trail moves to an environmental permeable rainwater system

As more and more land in settlement and traffic areas is built upon almost all projects feature sealed asphalt or concrete surfaces that prevent natural permeation of rainwater and requiring expensive surface drainage systems or levelling work.

The ECORASTER ground reinforcement system offers a real alternative to sealed surfaces and is comparable in cost to asphalt and, made from 100% recycled plastics, is good for the environment, creating a win-win-win.


In Saugeen Shores, the Rail Trail Association is one of the first to move toward the new environmentally friendly system after having it installed at the historic Hurricane Hazel train wreck site in Southampton this week.

        Mike Coates helps to lay the interlocking grid system

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The product, originally designed in Germany, is now being manufactured and distributed in North America from Listowell (ON) through Purus North America, a Canadian-owned and operated porous paving company.

“It can be used in almost any application,” says Vice-President and General Manager, Mike Coates, “from home use in landscaping and driveways, to equestrian sports, agricultural applications to walking and cycling tracks, and one of the main uses, of course, is parking lots.”


Frank Burrows (R), Saugeen Shores Manager of Parks, stopped by to learn more about the system and see the installation first-hand.




Coates went on to add that it is being used in the famous Spruce Meadows equestrian centre in Calgary, Alberta.  “When it comes to equestrian centres with open paddocks and pens, it is crucial that horses should not be standing in mud or sludge to prevent hoof problems.  Our ground reinforcement system creates a durable, water permeable and easy to clean surface.  We have transformed a muddy field into a horse paddock that can be used all year round in any weather.”

The system is easy to install without the need for heavy machinery with connecting pins on the reinforcement element that easily snap into the safety composite system and form a solid unit.

According to Coats, it is now being used at Georgian Brown Colleges, the famous Casa Loma in Toronto and by the Department of Transportation in the U.S.  “California is also looking at it because they have paved everything over which prevents any rainwater from reaching the aquifer and, therefore, they have a severe water shortage.”

“When it comes to home use, there is no limit,” adds Coates.  “It can be used to create a permeable patio with special paving stones or indoor-outdoor carpeting, for pathways and for driveways.  It can also allow plantings to come through and installed on a slope can prevent erosion.”

While Saugeen Rail Trail Association is one of the first local users, in Bruce County Walkerton Fire Hall community garden also doubles as a rain garden, but the garden is a high traffic area that was virtually inaccessible unless wearing rubber boots! Heavy foot traffic and poor drainage conditions left the garden trails full of mud. Wood chips were constantly being added to the trails in an attempt to absorb the extra water.  Today, the Ecoraster systems allows rainwater to easily be absorbed into the ground making the community garden mud free. Walkerton has since moved into phase 2 of the project and installed raised planting beds in addition to ground level beds. This community garden is now accessible for everyone, even those in wheelchairs who could not previously make their way through the mud.

“We are thrilled with this new system,” says Rail Trail volunteer Gerry Boucher.  “It is time that we moved into the 21st century when it comes to the environment and consider  plastics that are being used in other ways.  We had looked at asphalt but with this system comparable in price and being adjacent to the creek, the water will simply drain through into the ground which is as it should be.”