Murphy takes up watershed issue
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, planned to introduce an amendment Tuesday afternoon in the House Rules Committee directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take action to remediate persistent flooding in Washington and Allegheny counties.
Dain Pascocello, a Murphy aide, said the amendment would be added to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
Communities affected would include those in Murphy’s district such as Washington, Canton Township, Strabane, Canonsburg and Cecil Township, McDonald, Bridgeville, Oakdale and Carnegie.
Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain and support the country’s port and waterway infrastructure, and to provide targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. Murphy’s amendment builds off existing Army Corps responsibilities to prevent flooding in the Chartiers Creek watershed.
Pascocello said the amendment also would cover Burgetts Fork, which is in the 18th Congressional District, but not the part of Gorby Run or Pike Run in California’s Granville Hollow neighborhood, which is in the 9th Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, Congress directed the Army Corps of Engineers to design and build flood-control projects for Chartiers Creek and its tributaries, if appropriate. The initial construction project made improvements to Chartiers Creek near Canonsburg and Carnegie, but that existing infrastructure has proven to be incapable of controlling rising floodwaters along tributaries such as Campbells Run, Robinson Run, North Branch and McLaughlin Run.
The legislation also enables the corps to carry out a flood-control project for Robinson Run and North Branch near Oakdale, which was initially authorized in 1957 but has yet to be carried out. This past July, flooding of North Branch and Robinson Run caused $600,000 in damage to 52 homes, 15 businesses and several borough properties in Oakdale. Recent dredging of the streams will help to alleviate immediate concerns, but the larger flood-control project is needed to protect the community from 100-year floods.
At a Washington County budget hearing Monday, officials discussed a 2015 deadline the Army Corps of Engineers had given the county to complete dredging projects along 10 miles of streambed. The corps said if the county did not comply, the corps and federal taxpayers will no longer pay for flood damage.
Estimating the cost of the dredging has been difficult. A figure of $75,000 was mentioned as a “guesstimate,” but the costs would likely be much more because the creek cleanups, with special equipment, would have to be completed again and again over the course of decades.