Your flood-prone neighborhood needs a place to store runoff for a few hours or days.
What about your basement? It’s going to flood anyway.

We’ve discussed the intense downpours and land subsidence that cause flooding problems around Norfolk. These have focused the thinking of Tidewater residents – and a student design project in Chesterfield Heights, VA – on how to protect low-lying communities from flood damage.

Climate-proof with basement cisternsNeighborhood flooding is only a big deal for a short time. Residents told them about their flooded basements but noted that before long the water would drain out through permeable floors.

The frequency of basement flooding is up in recent years, so most flood-prone residents don’t keep much in their basements anyway. Rather than looking at how to keep the water out, this started the students working with design specialists on the idea of adapting existing basements to serve as cisterns.  This storage would reduce street and lawn flooding and cut down on the resulting pollution.

Milwaukee is exploring a similar climate-proofing idea: create basement cisterns in empty, beyond-repair homes. A single ‘base-tern’ project is expected to cost between $34,000 and $79,000, relatively inexpensive if it reduces sewer overflows. Thousands of American neighborhoods facing growing run-off floods may want to consider base-terns.