The Rehabilitation of Underwood Creek, a project designed by SEH, was selected by the American Public Works Association (APWA) to receive a Public Works Project of the Year award. The APWA presents the award annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects.
The project owner, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) hired SEH to improve Underwood Creek as part of a comprehensive plan to improve flood management within the Menomonee River watershed.
The creek is a major tributary of the Menomonee River and runs through a highly urbanized area with a history of severe flooding. The creek channel was filled, widened, realigned and lined with concrete in the 1970s in an effort to move floodwater away from the area more quickly during heavy rains. Instead, the concrete channel lining eliminated the watercourse’s natural drainage functions, and impaired aquatic and riparian wetland habitats.
The project has significant stakeholder support, as represented by Thomas Slawski, PhD, of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, who states: “The first phase of the Underwood Creek rehabilitation and flood management project is a great example of how to successfully accomplish flood management goals, reconnection of the stream to the floodplain, re-creation of riparian buffers, and instream restoration goals simultaneously with removal of concrete.”
Phase 1 of the rehabilitation project established a five-acre wetland floodplain and incorporated a meandering, stone-lined channel with riffles and pools that provide greatly enhanced aquatic habitat suitable for fish passage. The stable, rehabilitated main channel now accommodates frequent overbank events and provides the conditions necessary for a thriving riparian wetlands supporting native vegetation and wildlife habitat.
Tom Sear, PE