Johnstown Local Flood Protection Project
Following yet another a disastrous flood in 1936, the Army Corps of Engineers undertook a five-year project (1938-1943) to create deep paved channels for the Little Conemaugh and Stonycreek rivers as they pass through Johnstown. While the project was a technical success and the channels were subsequently only overtopped once (in the massive 1977 flood), the channels transform these lovely mountain streams into unappealing concrete canyons, creating a questionable aesthetic in a town that now attempts to promote itself as a tourist destination.
The orange-brown quality of the water in the Little Conemaugh due to upstream acidic discharges from abandoned mines. While a watershed protection project succeeded in cleaning up similar pollution in the Stonycreek River, a similar effort for the Little Conemaugh faces significant technical and economic hurdles.
Polluted water from the Little Conemaugh flowing into the clear Stonycreek River
In the long run, every program becomes rococco, and then rubble. (Alan Perlis)