In early July, Milwaukee released a feasibility study on its “BaseTern” concept developed by Erick Shambarger, deputy director of the city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. The BaseTern combines the concepts of cistern and basements by using vacant basements to capture and store stormwater during wet weather events, reducing pressure on the city’s combined sewer system.

Experiencing flooding issues and basement backups, the city formed the Flooding Study Task Force in July of 2010. The idea for the BaseTern was sparked when Shambarger noticed an overlap between areas where basement flooding occurred most and where many houses were being destroyed by the city due to foreclosure.

The basements would be covered with vegetation, and runoff would enter the basements through drains. Stormwater would leave the basement through the combined sewer or by infiltrating into the ground. The city hopes to build a BaseTern pilot by next summer. Read more from National Public Radio.