Mayor Condon's Message: Getting to a Cleaner River Faster

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Spokane River is our greatest natural asset—a wild, spectacular river complete with two sets of falls right in the core of our City. As part of our joint Council-Administration Strategic Plan, One Spokane, the City has prioritized our work to improve the health of the Spokane River and to protect it for the future.


This fall, we will complete the work to manage overflows from combined sewers. That work has included the construction of about two dozen underground storage tanks, some of which can hold more than 2 million gallons of combined wastewater. When we have a big rain storm, these combined sewers can become overwhelmed and overflow to the river. The tanks hold the excess wastewater until it can be treated. The final project continues to take shape on Spokane Falls Boulevard by the Downtown Library.


That work is only part of the $350 million generational investment we are making in river health. We’re well along on a project to add a third level of treatment to the City’s water reclamation facility, which treats about 34 million gallons of wastewater a day. We are installing membrane technology traditionally used in drinking water treatment to dramatically improve the quality of the water we return to the river.


We are addressing stormwater, too. On Erie Street near the new MLK Way, we are building a facility to manage stormwater from a legacy industrial area with some of the highest pollution concentrations in the City. And in 2020, we will begin work on a major project to manage stormwater from the Cochran Basin. That basin was created when we separated storm sewers on the North Side in the 1980s and contributes about half the one billion gallons of stormwater that goes to the river annually.


Our investment to get to a Cleaner River Faster is just the first step in protecting the river for future generations. Our Strategic Plan also elevates the need to connect people to the river—through access points, enhanced views and riverside trails. We know that the more people interact with the river, the more they will be inspired to keep it clean.


This spring, we opened a new boat launch for rafts and kayaks at Redband Park in Peaceful Valley. The site already has become a popular location. This launch joins several other popular river access points that the City partnered on, including a fun little launch under the Division Street Bridge and a take-out point just past the water reclamation facility on Aubrey L. White Parkway.