Marlene Feist

Mayor receives national award for clean water work

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, No Phone Number Available

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 2:16 p.m.

Mayor receives national award for clean water work

A little more than two years ago, the City—at the direction of Mayor David Condon—embarked on a journey to determine how to improve the health of the Spokane River, while keeping costs affordable. The result is the City's Integrated Clean Water Plan, which delivers better environmental results for the river at a price that's about $150 million cheaper than previous plans.

This week, the Mayor has received national recognition for his leadership on clean water issues. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has presented Mayor Condon with its 2015 National Environmental Achievement Local Public Service Award, which honors exemplary commitment to community, the environment, and the challenges faced by NACWA member agencies.

In its award notification, NACWA thanked the Mayor for his “service to the environment and the clean water community,” saying that his contributions have made a lasting impact on clean water goals.

NACWA is a national organization that represents close to 300 public clean water utilities around the country and has long advocated for integrated planning opportunities.

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of Spokane; it recognizes our innovative approach to achieve results that are both environmentally and financially responsible,” says Mayor Condon. “We are delivering greater water quality benefits for the Spokane River at a price that is affordable for our citizens.”

Earlier this year, NACWA's Executive Director Ken Kirk said this about Spokane's plan: “Spokane has developed a thorough, cross-disciplinary integrated plan that addresses infrastructure needs and improves water quality, all while saving ratepayers money. Their process and lessons learned will now inform utilities from coast to coast who are interested in exploring integrated planning in their own communities.”

Spokane was one of the first cities in the nation to submit an integrated plan, following a framework laid out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in June 2012. The City developed its plan voluntarily, while most cities pursuing this strategy are doing so under the force of a consent decree. The plan will deliver water quality results well beyond what the City is statutorily required to do.

The Mayor has committed to completing the plan's work while holding utility rate increases to inflation to make the work more affordable for citizens.

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

  • Manage overflows from combined sanitary and stormwater sewers.
  • Reduce the amount of 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.

In November, the City sold $200 million in “green” revenue bonds to invest in this work. Construction of a number of projects included in the plan already is under way, including large combined sewer tanks in Underhill Park, at a site at 21st Avenue and Ray Street, and along Sprague Avenue near Hamilton. The City also is moving ahead with design work for a $100 million upgrade at the water reclamation facility.

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