Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, No Phone Number Available
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 10:56 a.m.
A week in the waters of the Spokane River trolling for trash left us with new perspective, along with seven tons of somewhat-slimy stuff.
As a complement to the significant work that's under way to improve water quality in the Spokane River, the City of Spokane and several partners put together what we dubbed a “barge cleanup” to remove larger pieces of garbage in the river between Division and Hamilton streets.
A boat with a winch, joined by divers and a platform compiled of floating docks to serve as a barge, was used to remove larger items that have been discarded in the river over the years. The boat and its crew worked for a week to remove what they could.
Shopping carts, bicycle parts, and tires literally littered the river bottom. Crews also pulled out a safe, a sink, a ski, a roller blade, cart parts, a park bench, and two wagon wheels, among other things. Around the bridges, in particular, the trash piled up.
“We accomplished something during our barge week, but we were a little sad to see how much our river has been used as a dumping site,” says Gavin Cooley, the City's Chief Financial Officer who helped lead the charge on the garbage cleanup plans. “We are hopeful that our week-long project highlighted the role we can all play in protecting this great community asset.”
Crew members reported that they didn't get all the trash in this small stretch of the river, and of course, there's plenty more river that could use this kind of cleanup effort. We're going to evaluate whether it makes sense to plan another barge cleanup in the future.
Our thanks to our partners on this project: Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane River Forum, Avista Corp., The Lands Council, and the Friends of the Falls. Additional thanks go out to the barge team of Knight Construction, Associated Underwater Services (AUS), and Brown Construction.
The event was part of a series of events in September designed to help people “fall in love with the Spokane River.” Last week also included an event featuring Chad Pregracke, who is known for his work to remove trash in the Mississippi River, and the annual Spokane River Clean-Up, which gathers hundreds of volunteers to remove trash along the river's shores.
The City of Spokane will invest more than $300 million in projects to improve water quality in the Spokane River, including major improvements at the City's wastewater treatment plant, projects to reduce overflows from combined sewers, and stormwater management projects.