ELMIRA, NY (WETM)- Representatives in the Commonwealth have passed bills that would improve creek and stream maintenance, to help avoid these disasters from ever happening again.
Less than one year ago, dangerous waters tore through much of Steuben and Tioga counties, destroying homes, bridges, roads and more.
As of Monday, the House has approved an eight-bill stream maintenance package designed to work on policy.
“There are some things that are in this package of legislation that will allow our municipalities to do the work that they need to do to protect the communities that they’ve sworn oath to protect and protect the investment the tax dollars,” says Representative Clint Owlett.
Specifically, Representative Owlett’s House Bill 2404 would allow for a 10 year permit, allowing counties, boroughs, municipalities to go in and do maintenance after a high flood event, high water event or even just routine maintenance.
“We can do better. We cannot just allow water to do what water does,” says Owlett, “The counties in the municipalities in the borough’s know the issues the best in their communities.”
Representative Tina Pickett is also on the stream maintenance package. Her bill, House Bill 2405, would create a program that allows counties, in consultation with their county conservation district to issue emergency permits for stream maintenance.
“This program has been a three year trial right now in Bradford County,” says Pickett, “I’m trying to make this available to all of the counties in Pennsylvania”
Both Owlett and Pickett agree that it’s time for a change.
“We heard from a lot of people over the last several months about this issue has been not a new issue,” says Owlett. “If you really want to gather a crowd you say you’re going to have a meeting on on stream maintenance and repair in Pennsylvania you’re going to have 500 people show up like that,” says Pickett.
The bill now heads to the Senate and will go through the same process. Owlett and Pickett remain hopeful that this will get passed.