Breean Beggs

Council Seeks Public Feedback on Water Conservation Plan

Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council President, 509.625.6255

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 3:54 p.m.

Council Seeks Public Feedback on Water Conservation Plan

We are so fortunate to source our drinking water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Unlike other regions in the US, our water is clear enough that we’re able to draw it directly from the aquifer and pump it to over 600,000 homes and businesses with minimal treatment.

But contrary to the urban myth that our water supply is miraculously “infinite,” there are real restrictions on our water system which require thoughtful planning to ensure its ongoing viability in the face of a growing community and changing precipitation patterns.

As the Chair of the City Council Public Infrastructure, Environment & Sustainability Committee, I am inviting public comment on the City’s first formal draft Water Conservation Master Plan, or WCMP.

Our aquifer, the Spokane River, rainfall, and snowpack together form the basis of our water supply. Studies performed by the US Geological Survey and local water providers have shown that the aquifer’s largest source of recharge is the Spokane River. The river is also the largest point of outflow.

The City Council’s recent climate survey indicates that the vast majority of Spokane residents feel strongly that the City should protect the health of our river throughout the year. Which is exactly why we are taking our water conservation efforts so seriously. Currently, Spokane massively increases its pumping from the aquifer/river system for outdoor irrigation during the summer exactly when river/aquifer flows are at their lowest rate. Matching our use with available water is the key to preserving a vibrant river for recreation and fish while sustaining our tradition of agriculture and the future of innovative businesses.

This draft plan, once adopted, will serve as the City’s Water Conservation Master Plan for 12 months while a second, more ambitious version is drafted for adoption next year. City Council would like to hear from all stakeholders within the City’s water service area, including individual households, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and anyone who gets their water from the City of Spokane. This initial version is a great foundation for future work, but both staff and Council have acknowledged that it is not ambitious enough to really create the required sustainability over the long term. Rather than delay implementation for creation of a better plan, Council is considering adoption of this version as an interim plan and will revise the plan with a collaboration group to achieve more substantial water savings and create a drought contingency component.

Please send your written comments on both this current Water Conservation Master Plan and any ideas for future versions of conservation plans to or by mail to City Council 808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201. You can also call City Council office by phone at 509.625.6255. If your comments are received before Monday, June 1, they will be considered prior to the formal adoption of this year’s plan.

The current version of the City’s WCMP was drafted under the leadership of the City’s Water Department with direction from two internal technical teams as well as the Sustainability Action Subcommittee and City Council. Council expects the next version of the conservation plan to include more robust conservation goals as well as both voluntary and mandatory drought response measures.

In order to take a multi-stakeholder approach to future plans and for developing our drought response plan, the City Council is also forming a Water Resource Collaboration Group and invites anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Spokane to apply for membership. If you are interested in applying, please fill out this application form and submit it no later than Sunday, June 21.

The Water Resource Collaboration Group, (WRCG), will make recommendations on three specific items: our ten-year reduction targets, the next version of the Water Conservation Master Plan, and mandatory drought reduction measures in the event our region experiences droughts in the future.

Thank you for considering giving feedback. Your input on Spokane’s most precious resource matters!

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