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Mill Creek flooding may have resolution in sight

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LOWVILLE — Watching the waters of Mill Creek in Lowville rise a little more every year during heavy snowfall has been a frustrating and nerve-wracking issue for one neighboring property owner, Douglas J. Iseneker.

Since June 2011, he has been seeking help from the village.

Though Mr. Iseneker’s property is in the town of Lowville, bordering the village, he suspected the village exacerbated the problem by dumping plowed snow upstream of his business, Iseneker Funeral Home, 5702 Waters Road.

Initially responsive, the village board considered snow in another location when the water encroached on Mr. Iseneker’s property. Installation of riprap along the shore line also was offered, along with the potential dredging of the creek, which in recent years had become overgrown.

Ultimately, two years of sporadic discussions were unsuccessful.

Heavy snowfall in December left Mr. Iseneker scrambling to find help again. Ice jams heaved onto his lawn, eventually scraping trees when the ice jam broke, taking fallen trees with it.

This time, he contacted then-Town Highway Superintendent Richard T. Dening, who put him in touch with Lewis County Emergency Services Director James M. Martin.

“That was just before Christmas,” Mr Iseneker said of the phone call.

Things are moving a lot faster now.

“We all realize there’s a problem here,” Mr, Martin said.

“Years ago, this was dredged,” he said of the island-like overgrowth in the creek behind Mr. Iseneker’s property. “It now created a catch basin.”

Mr. Martin said he believed dredging the spot will clear the growth that’s stopping dumped snow, creating the flooding.

Because the bottom of the creek is bedrock, Mr. Martin didn’t think it would be a difficult task, but obtaining permission and the funds to do so require more assistance.

Thursday afternoon, Mr. Martin viewed the area with officials from the state Emergency Management Office.

The next step is to get all entities, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, on board to move forward with a dredging project.

“We’ll set up a local meeting,” Mr. Martin said. “We’ll see about getting mitigation funds.”

DEC Region 6 spokesman Stephen W. Litwhiler had not yet been advised of this specific project, but said a permit was likely to be needed and the agency would assist when needed.

“We’re responsible for the protection of the waterways,” he said.

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