Council to consider adoption of Integrated Clean Water Plan on May 5

Public open house and testimony also planned

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, 509.625.6505

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

On Monday, May 5, the Spokane City Council will consider adoption of a comprehensive plan to improve the health of the Spokane River, called the Integrated Clean Water Plan.

The public is invited to attend an open house on the plan between 4:30 and 6 p.m. and provide comments during the 6 p.m. Council meeting on that day. The meeting and open house will be held in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard.

“Our Integrated Clean Water Plan is environmentally and financially responsible,” says Mayor David Condon. “It delivers significant water quality results that benefit our community and our state. We are working to develop a path forward to deliver these results.”

Spokane will be one of the first cities in the nation to submit an integrated plan, following a framework laid out by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The City developed its plan voluntarily, while most cities pursuing this strategy, which takes a holistic approach to water quality planning, are doing so under the force of a consent decree. The plan would deliver significant water quality results beyond what the City is statutorily required to do.

The Integrated Clean Water Plan details $310 million in work to:

  • Manage overflows from combined sanitary and stormwater sewers.
  • Reduce the amount of untreated stormwater reaching the river from separated storm sewers.
  • Upgrade the City’s Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility to remove more pollutants from the plant’s effluent year round.

The projects include large storage tanks to hold combined sewage during large storms, green infrastructure to capture stormwater before it reaches sewer systems, and a new level of treatment at the plant that uses membrane technology to filter out pollutants. Some projects are needed to meet the City’s permit requirements, while others simply make sense for the health of the Spokane River.

A couple of large combined sewage storage tanks are under construction, including a 1 million gallon tank at 21st Avenue and Ray Street and a 1.5 million gallon tank at Underhill Park.

The plan anticipates completion of the work over about five years and would meet the timelines set out in the City’s discharge permits. The City estimates that this plan will save ratepayers around $150 million and provide magnitudes greater pollution reduction for the Spokane River than previous plans, meeting the City’s goal of achieving a Cleaner River Faster.

The City is seeking a financial partnership, with the state or other partner, totaling about 20 percent of the overall cost of the plan. At this point, Ecology has been unable to commit this funding. The median household income in the City is about 70 percent of the state’s median household income and 78 percent of the nation’s. The Mayor has committed to completing the plan’s work, while holding utility rate increases to inflation, to make the work affordable for citizens.

Some 5 million gallons of combined wastewater and stormwater enters the river through 20 discharge points from our combined sewer system annually. Another 1 billion gallons of untreated stormwater enters the river through separated storm drains, primarily located on the North Side. The City’s treatment plant, meanwhile, processes about 34 ┬ámillion gallons of wastewater daily.