Proposal for new well designed to ensure reliable, safe water for customers

New site better for river levels, protection from contaminants

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, (509) 625-6505

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.

The City of Spokane is pursuing the development of a new well site to improve efficiency and ensure reliable, safe drinking water for the City’s water customers into the future. The Washington State Department of Ecology approved the change application needed for the new well today.

The new well, which is proposed in the Emerson-Garfield area, would have a smaller impact on Spokane River flows and be located farther away from sources of potential contamination than other City well sites.

The well isn’t needed to increase the amount of water the City is currently pumping, nor is the City seeking additional water rights. In fact, over the last 20 years, the total amount of water pumped by the City has decreased, even while population and the total number of utility accounts has increased.

“The new well is an outcome of resiliency planning we do regularly as a City. It is one of the ways we provide the best and most reliable service to our citizens,” says Mayor David Condon.

The proposed new well site would:

  • Provide the City with sufficient capacity to serve all customers if an oil pipeline located near two of the city’s largest wells were to break.
  • Provide the City with sufficient capacity to serve all customers if fuel and oil storage tanks located along East Trent Avenue near another well site spilled. The new site also would address the potential of contamination from possible train derailments in the East Trent area.
  • Aid in the state’s efforts to protect the instream flow of the Spokane River. Geologic studies show that pumping from our proposed new site would have less of an impact on river flows than other City well locations.
  • Move pumping away from groundwater that has the potential to be under the influence of surface water, further protecting public health.
  • Allow the City to gain operational efficiencies. The new site would provide additional pumping strategies, allowing the city to optimize the use of its water distribution system.

“This new well is about ensuring safe water and improved operations,” says Rick Romero, the City’s Utilities Division Director. “In our utility operations, our goals remain to be both environmentally and financially responsible. This proposal is consistent with these goals.”

The new site would be the eighth well site operated by the City. Construction on the site likely wouldn’t begin until 2017. The City’s Water Department provides up to 180 million gallons of safe drinking water a day to its customers.

“We have a responsibility to protect public health and serve our customers reliably,” Romero says. “As we watch the impacts on drinking water supplies in other places from oil spills and other accidents, we know this new well is critically important.”