Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

A Little History Re: What's Happening On Robinwood?

City of Brookfield, Development, Weather

Gravel piles, backhoes, trucks, sewer suckers,  barricades, sewer pipes and huge concrete junction pipes again are familiar sights for those living on Robinwood Street. Seems like the city just did sewer work over there.

Actually, it has been 7 years since the last sewer project. But what is going on now?

I asked Tom Grisa, the Director of Public Works. He said it is a sanitary sewer project.

While it may seem that the project started because of the June 7th rains, it has been in the works for over a year. From Tom Grisa:

"The City replaced a portion of the sanitary sewer on Robinwood from S[outh]. 123rd St. to Parkmoor in accordance with the engineering report and storm water and flood task force recommendations for this area.  This work was done in 2001.  Since then we have had several sewer backups on Robinwood west of Parkmoor, so we decided to replace the sewer from Parkmoor to Harvey with the expectation that this should help the situation.  

"This has been in the works for a little over a year.  We proposed the improvement in last year's budget and Capital plan, designed it over the winter, got approval from regulatory agencies this spring and bid the work out and awarded it in late May.

"This improvement will help reduce the frequency and severity of basement backups..."

Many residents living on the side streets near Robinwood experienced basement flooding and sewer backups again. Grisa explained:

 "...this rain resulted in many homes with flooded basements from their sump pumps not keeping up for a variety of reasons (pump failed, pump burned out because they pumped against a lot of pressure from a full storm sewer or ditch, pump couldn't keep up, power outage, window wells leaked, walls leaked, floors leaked through cracks, downspouts were not extended or knocked off, etc.)  When that happens all that water goes down the floor drain into our sewer which is then overloaded and backs up into other people's houses."

Since I've lived in Brookfield, we have had two 100 year rains and now a Millennium rain or flood, depending on your circumstance. When we moved here in 1986, we had no idea that we chose a home on very high ground, just a few houses east of the subcontinental divide on Sunnyslope. Once those 100 year rains came, we realized how blessed we were. The residents near Robinwood Street, less than 1 mile east of us however, are not that fortunate. The land is low over there.

According to residents who predate Brookfield becoming a city, much of Robinwood Street was a wetland, complete with ducks. (The old-timers also say that the Pick 'n Save on Greenfield in West Allis was a marsh when they moved in.)

Kinsey Park pond used to have a dam near Elm Grove Road. If full enough, the pond water would spill over the dam and run down the open storm sewer. As a kid, my cousins, sister and I explored that storm sewer all the way down Robinwood--a very stupid thing to do. Hey, we were kids, we did not know that if it would have rained, we would have been killed. (My parents and aunt and uncle sure did not know what we were up to.)

The City of Brookfield took out the dam--I'm trying to remember--in the 1990s? They installed an overflow stand pipe type drain with a baffle inside and a grate on the top. The baffle acts like an internal dam. Children can no longer access the storm sewers like we so foolishly did. 

Trouble is, when we have a severe rain like the June 7th storm, fallen trees from Kinsey woods wash down the creek and plug the drain. Photo is from June 8th. The backhoe was removing some of the debris.

I spoke with a motorist who saw the pond the evening of June 7th. They said the pond had overflowed its banks and the southbound lane of Elm Grove Road was flooded. A workman was trying to remove debris from the grate that night, so the pond could properly drain. (If you look closely, the drain is on the far left of the photo.)

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, most of this area was farmland, and Cardinal Crest subdivision along Robinwood wasn't developed yet. When we had heavy rains, it really did not matter. But now the southeast corner of Brookfield is nearly totally developed. When it rains; it matters!

Engineering continues to make improvements. Judging by the amount of soggy items out on the driveways waiting to be picked up, even though this last rain was heavier than our previous 2 deluges, it seemed fewer homes were affected. I sincerely hope this project improves the situation for these Robinwood area residents.  

Have anything to add to my history of the area? I love to hear from long time residents.


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