Smith Supports Bill to Allow Municipalities to Perform Flood-Related Stream Cleanup
HARRISBURG - House Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson, Indiana, Armstrong) today voted in favor of legislation that would allow local municipalities and individual landowners to remove flood-related hazards and debris from streams without first obtaining permits from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). House Bill 2359 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
“This bill presents a remedy to a problem I’ve been hearing about from several local governments. Small stream flooding continues to be a problem affecting private property,” Smith said. “The problem is that after a severe storm or flood a municipality cannot proceed to clean up a stream without obtaining the necessary permits from DEP. This measure, which I strongly support, removes some bureaucratic roadblocks that are currently costing local government precious time and money they do not have.”
According to the Speaker, the legislation directs the state’s Environmental Quality Board to establish a streamlined process for the removal of flood-related hazards or related stream clearing activities by people owning an adjacent property or the local municipality. The guidelines would require that DEP be notified prior to the removal of debris, but would not require permits or professional engineering services.
Another of the bill’s significant provisions is that in the event of an immediate emergency -- as deemed by local, county, or state authorities -- the flood-related hazards may be removed prior to notifying DEP.
“This bill presents a very reasonable remedy to a very real issue many municipalities are facing,” Smith stressed. “Local governments are watching budgets closely and wrestling with unanticipated costs. In most instances they have the manpower and equipment to remedy the damage, but are held back from restoring their communities by costly permits, fees, and engineering costs, or in some cases the inability to obtain a permit in a timely manner. We need to remove those roadblocks. I hope the Senate will act quickly on this bill.”
State Representative Sam Smith
66th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Kelly Fedeli