- Flooding and lack of stream maintenance has burdened communities throughout the Commonwealth for years. In light of these issues, a group of lawmakers from the Northern Tier as well the Central and Western regions have come together to introduce a package of bills aimed at improving communities’ abilities to clear creeks and streams to help prevent flooding, which will protect lives and property.
This package has been introduced as a response to concerns in these local areas regarding stream maintenance, flooding and the alarming Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) policies that make containing these issues nearly impossible.
“It is frustrating to me, as well as my constituents, county commissioners, township supervisors and borough officials, that stream and waterway maintenance is such a struggle.” said Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne).We learned that DEP policy, under this administration, makes it particularly difficult to get a permit to remove debris and gravel bars, both of which are key contributors to localized flooding.”
The package of bills includes the following:
House Bill 2404
(Owlett): 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 2409
(Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington): Would state that no permit shall be required for the removal of flood-related hazards from streams that are deemed to be an emergency by a state or county.
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.
Representative Jonathan Fritz
111th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jordan Garrett
RepFritzPA.com / Facebook.com/RepFritz