– Completing the work they began last week to cut red tape involving local efforts to prevent flooding, the state House on Monday approved the final two bills of the eight-bill stream maintenance package, including one sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter).
“It is in the best interest of taxpayers and property owners that we work together to ensure local officials can take the necessary steps to prevent flooding and protect lives and livelihoods,” Owlett said. “That’s what my bill, and this entire package of bills, is intended to do. I am hopeful the Senate will act on it promptly.”
Watch Rep. Owlett’s comments on the House floor here
Owlett’s House Bill 2404
would create a continuous maintenance permit that could be issued to municipalities or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to maintain, inspect and monitor watercourses, water obstructions, appurtenant works and encroachments within their jurisdiction.
The permits would allow for continuous maintenance for a period of at least 10 years and therefore would not require pre-approval for maintenance projects.
“The permitting process can be costly and time consuming, too often preventing local leaders from being able to address an issue before it leads to flooding that could put lives and property at risk,” Owlett said. “My bill acknowledges that our local officials are in the best position to manage these issues to protect their communities.”
Also approved on Monday, House Bill 2407 would clarify the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has no authority for permitting or enforcement related to stream clearing or maintenance activities. This authority would belong solely to Department of Environmental Protection and county conservation districts as appropriate.
Bills in the package approved by the House last week include:
• House Bill 2405
, which would create a program that allows counties, in consultation with their county conservation district, to issue emergency permits for stream maintenance, modeled after a pilot project in Bradford County.
• House Bill 2406
, which would create a permit specific to smaller maintenance projects.
• House Bill 2408
, which would clarify that no permit would be required for maintenance on a culvert.
• House Bill 2409
, which would clarify that no permit would be required for removal of flood-related hazards that are deemed to be an emergency by a state or county.
• House Bill 2410
, which would clarify that no permit would be required for maintenance activities conducted within 50 feet of a bridge or culvert.
• House bill 2411
, which would require DEP to issue an annual report to the General Assembly regarding flooding and stream maintenance and restoration.
The bills, which were developed following a hearing of the House Majority Policy Committee in Wellsboro late last year, are now awaiting action by the Senate.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
RepOwlett.com / Facebook.com/RepOwlett