This work investigates the profiles of surface water flow over a pervious pavement, for example, highway, during a uniform rainfall. The pavement, such as porous asphalt or open-graded asphalt friction course, is regarded as a porous medium, and the flow inside the layer is porous media flow. At first, the velocity distributions are solved based on the simplified Navier–Stokes equations and Biot's theory of poroelasticity for the water layer and the permeable layer, respectively. Then, the flow profiles can be found via the continuity equation. Because the closed form of the water depth cannot be obtained, a numerical technique is employed to find the flow profiles on the pavement surface. A critical permeability factor related to the material and structure of pavement is illustrated to be η = 1.36 × 10− 4m as the half road width L = 20 m, the cross slope S = 0.02,the pavement thickness H = 0.05 m, and rainfall intensity i = 100 mm/h. The water on the road surface can be drained very fast, whereas the parameter is greater than the critical value. Another illustration of allowable/safety water depth is made for the design of the pavement thickness. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.