HERKIMER — Efforts to address flooding issues on Bellinger Brook are moving forward with the start of a study to look at the area above Herkimer College, according to state Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport.
"First and foremost, we have obtained funding through the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Water Protection Alliance," Butler said in a telephone interview.
The grant of about $22,000 will allow for the gathering of additional information.
"This will be a new study that will be more encompassing and will look further above the college. That’s a real breakthrough for us," Butler said.
He added, "Based on that, Milone & MacBroom has been or will be doing additional field work, working on an expanded study. It’s what we’ll base future funding requests on."
Butler said the town of Herkimer, which is serving as the lead agent in the study, executed a contract with the Milone & MacBroom engineering firm to study the area above Herkimer College. The town and village of Herkimer boards had agreed to split the cost if the grant application was not approved. Now that won’t be necessary, said Butler, but he added, "They stepped up to the plate and that speaks well of the cooperative effort."
Another development in the committee’s work is that the New York State Canal Corporation has agreed to provide a gauge to monitor the water level at the mouth of the stream where Bellinger Brook enters the Mohawk River to provide accurate information on stream flows, Butler said.
In a memorandum to committee members, he said Herkimer College and its foundation have been working to address problems with a pond on a parcel of foundation-owned property above the college.
Nicholas F. Laino, senior vice president for administration and finance at the college, said in a telephone interview that following a heavy rain last summer, water came from the area north of the foundation-owned land and overflowed the pond.
"We sent up a drone and the college sent someone upstream. There was a tremendous amount of water coming from north of the foundation land. It hit and went over the pond," he said.
The pond was part of the former farmland that the foundation bought, Laino explained.
"We’re exploring options for remediation where the pond broke down. I don’t believe the pond is the major problem. It was in the pathway of the flow of water," he said.
Laino said an engineer is looking at the pond to see how it can be properly secured.
He added, "It’s curious the amount of water that came from north of the foundation property."
A beaver was also removed from the area, Laino said.
"These are positive developments," Butler said of the progress. "We expect to reenergize our committee really soon and continue our work."
The assemblyman began working with local officials and engineering consultants last summer after new flooding sparked renewed interest in the problems with the creek. A working committee was formed to look at why flooding problems with the stream continue.
Milone & MacBroom, Inc. conducted an extensive study and assessment of the Bellinger Brook Water Basin following the June 2013 flood, concentrating on an area that began on the upper edge of the Herkimer College Campus and ended at the Mohawk River.
The committee decided the study should be expanded in an effort to determine the cause of the flooding.