The city of Milwaukee has come up with a clever way to reduce flooding within its borders — flood basements.
To be more specific, it is planning to use the basements of abandoned, foreclosed homes as cisterns. The homes are going to be demolished (probably not the greenest thing in the world) and Erick Shambarger, the deputy director of the City of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability, had the idea to use the basements in order to improve the city’s stormwater management.
This idea is part of Milwaukee’s new sustainability plan, which, it seems, is aiming to be innovative and hip. The plan is called ReFresh Milwaukee. The subheading is: “Fresh Coast. Fresh Ideas. A Vision for Community Sustainability.”
Fresh, indeed. In my years studying and working in city planning, I never ran across such an idea. And it works exceptionally well for Milwaukee, as the area of the city most threatened by basement flooding is where hundreds of foreclosed homes sit waiting to be demolished.
The name given to these basement cisterns by the ReFresh Milwaukee crew is “BaseTerns.” The city even went ahead and trademarked the name, perhaps expecting that other cities will follow its lead and set aside their own abandoned basements for flood control.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of the basements or homes intended to be used for flooding, but the picture above is a picture of some nasty-looking Milwaukee flooding, and here’s one more, demonstrating that Milwaukee does seem to have a flood control problem: