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Pennsylvania DEP To Spend Millions Of Dollars For Water Clean-Up Projects In Western Pa.

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it is going to spend millions of dollars for water clean-up projects in our region.

The Growing Greener Plus project aims to improve aquatic life and help reduce the potential for flooding. The Loyalhanna Creek is the picture of perfection when it comes to waterways in western Pennsylvania.

"They are God's gift to us and we gotta take care of them," Ligonier Mayor Butch Bellas said.

But those in the know said other waterways, like Mill Creek, still need help.

"It's an ugly, ugly stream that's not functioning up to its ability," said Josh Penatzer, project manager for the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.

To make that happen, the DEP and Loyalhanna Watershed Association will focus $7 million of grant money statewide. Three million dollars locally will go to certain projects.

"Build these to give the streams a jump-start to try to take themselves to the way they were running before," Penatzer said.

Time and storm-fed torrents have chewed up banks and filled up creeks with silt, hampering aquatic life that is attempting to thrive.

Among the improvements is adding hemlock logs under the rocks along the banks to keep them from washing away. But this is more than creating a nice place to live for fish and other wildlife.

"Most of it is flooding issues and ice that are carving these banks away," Penatzer said. "And now there are homes on the edge of these streams and they're having flooding issues."

Westmoreland County is one of many that will see projects.

"For our region in the southwest, we have 12 different projects we're funding," said Jim Miller regional director of the Pennsylvania DEP.

The projects are scheduled to be completed over the next few months, but the actual recovery of the waterways will take years.

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