Concrete driveways have huge benefits for Aussie homeowners, allowing them to park vehicles conveniently while requiring much less maintenance than a conventional garden. But while they may seem innocent, these handy features come with a significant downside, at least from an environmental perspective.

That's because large expanses of concrete form an impermeable layer above soil, preventing water from percolating through. Normally, rainwater would fall on grass or soil and gradually filter through the ground, finding its way into aquifers or watercourses. It wouldn't remain above ground in the form of standing water.

But thanks to concrete and other waterproof materials, that doesn't happen. According to experts from Melbourne's RMIT university, when heavy rainfall takes place, the water that falls has nowhere to go, leading to flood damage — potentially to the homes of concrete driveway owners.

What's the solution to the water management issues caused by concrete driveways?

Nobody is arguing that Australian homewoners should rip up their drives and lay down gravel or bare soil. That's a recipe for erosion and mess, neither of which would help the environmental situation much.

But there are remedies that are available to homeowners. Most importantly, they can bring in professional concrete cutters to create openings in concrete driveways that are fitted with grilles or other drainage features. With the right arrangement of gutters and (maybe) some changes to the slope of your driveway, it's possible to divert water into these drains, moving it away from the surface and into the ground.

With core drilling equipment, these contractors can create the right size and distribution of holes, and the same technicians who cut the concrete can often advise on drainage solutions.

Use innovative new forms of concrete for home improvements

There are also remedies for homeowners who have the chance to start afresh or are just installing concrete surfaces. For instance, permeable concretes are now on the market which have the same strength and durability as normal varieties, but allow water to pass through into the soil below.

Soon, homeowners will also be able to source materials that are absorbent and climate-friendly, doubling the environmental friendliness of driveways. Aussie firms are in the vanguard of creating 'green'concrete which traps carbon emissions from industry, although that's not expected to go mainstream for a few years.

So if you're worried about local flood risks or the wider environment, investigating drainage solutions and specialist materials could be the ideal solution.