HARRISBURG – The House today passed legislation authored by Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) that would enhance a community’s ability to clear creeks and streams to help limit flooding in order to protect lives and prevent property damage.
The bill is part of a package of legislation aimed at empowering local governments to better be able to maintain the Commonwealth’s streams and creeks.
“While this package of bills grew out of a Majority Policy Hearing as a result of serious flooding in the northern tier of the Commonwealth, flooding is an issue in all regions,” O’Neal said. “In Washington County in particular, we have seen flooding of the Chartiers Creek when heavy rains occur. By allowing local government to remove debris in an expeditious fashion without red tape, I am hopeful we can reduce the incidences of flooding.”
House Bill 2409
, authored by O’Neal, would state that no permit shall be required for the removal of flood-related hazards from steams that are deemed to be an emergency by a state or county. It now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
The other bills in the stream maintenance package include:
House Bill 2404
(Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter): Would allow local government organizations to apply for a permit for continuing maintenance for a period of at least 10 years for the streams within their jurisdiction. This permit would grant an affirmative duty to the local government entity to properly maintain the streams and would not require the local government to get pre-approval for maintenance projects.
House Bill 2405
(Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna): Would create a program that allows counties to opt in to address hazards within their streams by allowing for emergency maintenance permits in consultation with their county conservation district. This is modeled after a pilot project that has proven successful in Bradford County
House Bill 2406
(Rep. Jonathan Fritz, R-Susquehanna/Wayne): Would create a permit specific to smaller maintenance projects for the mitigation of flood-related hazards of less than 250 linear feet. This permit would be reviewed and issued by the local county conservation district.
House Bill 2407
(Rep. Joe Hamm, R-Lycoming/Union): Would clarify that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has no authority for permitting or enforcement related to stream clearing or maintenance activities. This authority shall belong solely to DEP and the county conservation districts as appropriate.
House Bill 2408
(Rep. Mike Armanini, R-Clearfield/Elk): Would declare that no permit or authorization shall be required for maintenance activities conducted on a culvert.
House Bill 2410
(Rep. Brian Smith, R-Jefferson/Indiana): Would state that no permit shall be required for stream maintenance activities conducted 50 feet or less upstream or downstream of a bridge or culvert.
House Bill 2411
(Rep. John Hershey, R-Mifflin/Juniata/Franklin): Would require DEP to issue an annual report to the General Assembly regarding flooding and stream maintenance and restoration.
The 48th Legislative District in Washington County includes the city of Washington; Chartiers, North Franklin, North Strabane and South Strabane townships; and Canonsburg, East Washington and Houston boroughs.
Representative Tim O’Neal
48th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick