Jun. 25, 2020

HARRISBURG – Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam) today announced that both chambers of the General Assembly have passed his bill, House Bill 1003, which would strengthen the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) ability to enforce the marking of low head or run-of-the-river dams.

The PFBC is charged with ensuring low head dams are properly marked both upstream and downstream with signage and buoys. Currently, the only way to enforce these provisions is through a civil process, which is prolonged, costly and often ineffective. This legislation would allow the PFBC to directly issue citations to owners who fail to mark their dams. It would also update the definition of run-of-the-river dams to ensure every one of these structures is adequately marked for public safety.

“Forty-nine individuals have lost their lives in dam-related boating accidents since 1989. Most of these accidents take place near low head dams – small, private or municipally owned structures that span the entire width of a waterway. There are over 300 of these dams across the Commonwealth, many originally constructed to support a local mill or factory and are now obsolete,” said Gillespie. “Boaters are often caught in the dangerous hydraulic boil behind the structure, which is often referred to as a ‘drowning machine.’ It’s far past time to strengthen our warnings for these dangerous structures and protect those who take advantage of the recreational opportunities that Pennsylvania’s rivers offer.”

The bill was passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Representative Keith Gillespie
47th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Kevin DiGuiseppe
717.260.6419 (office), 610.937.4679 (cell)