By Eric Paulsen   Published May 23, 2001 at 3:34 AM

Alterra Coffee continues to expand in Milwaukee and they've decided things are cooler near the lake.

Alterra's new location, announced last year, will open inside a building we've all seen, but may not be too familiar with: the old Milwaukee River flushing station at the corner of Lincoln Memorial Drive and Lafayette Hill Drive.

One-third of the building still contains the pumping equipment, manufactured by Allis-Chalmers. The original pump was a steam engine; the current pump apparatus is electric, and is still in use today periodically to control oxygen levels in the river. That equipment will remain on display in Alterra's new location, the name of which has yet to be determined.

Ward Fowler, one of Alterra's owners, looks forward to the opening of the new location, slated for late summer. He has few worries about taking current business away from its nearby location on Prospect Ave.

"I suspect some of that will happen, but it won't be a big deal for us," Fowler says, adding that commuters using Lincoln Memorial Drive, particularly in the morning hours, form a large part of the new location's targeted customer base.

The idea behind the flushing station, considered an engineering marvel in the 19th century, was to manage the quality of the city's water supply. The building today still deals with water quality, and Alterra likes the idea of pairing its environmentally-friendly policies with a location that keeps water as clean as possible.

"We are also devising a geothermal heating and air conditioning system which will draw energy from lake water that flows through the station," Fowler says. "We'll convert that energy into heat for winter and cool air for summer."

Alterra -- which also has locations in Mayfair Mall, in Bayshore Mall, at 2211 N. Prospect Ave. and in the Firstar Building, 777 E. Wisconsin Ave. -- hopes to have the new location up and running by September. We'll keep you updated.