Monday, September 14, 2009

Play it Again, Sam

A new version of the plan to control phosphorus pollution and increase oxygen in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane is ready for public review. You may be thinking we have been here before. And we have! However, substantial changes to the draft water-quality improvement plan have been made. That means we need to hear from you again.

Over the years this plan has been controversial and the subject of robust community discussion. This time around the plan has been re-worked to address community’s concerns heard during the previous public comment period. Now it’s time to take one more look.

The water quality improvement plan outlines how the community will reduce phosphorus and other substances in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane to prevent algae blooms, increased growth of aquatic plants, and the related declines in Lake Spokane’s dissolved oxygen.

Phosphorus is the primary nutrient causing excess algae and plant growth in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane. It acts like fertilizer, causing algae and other aquatic plants to grow and thrive. When the plants decompose, they use up dissolved oxygen that fish need to breathe. More algae means less oxygen.

The plan is still one of the most stringent in the country.
  • It will lead to reducing phosphorus pollution from industrial and municipal pipes by more than 90 percent.

  • The industrial and municipal “point-source” (from a pipe) dischargers are required to help reduce phosphorus from other diffuse, “non-point” sources such as farms, septic systems, animal waste, and fertilizers used at home.

  • It provides strong incentives for investing in wise water use.

  • Establishes a long-term monitoring program for the river and Lake Spokane.

So what is different about this plan?
  • Requirements to reduce stormwater discharges.

  • An average 66 percent reduction in the amount of phosphorus that goes into Lake Spokane during the warmer months, March to October.

  • A plan to address the dissolved oxygen impacts for which Avista is responsible.

Take another look for yourself. The new comment runs through Oct. 14, 2009. The Spokane River/Lake Spokane Dissolved Oxygen Water Quality Improvement Plan will guide work toward a healthier Spokane River.

A public meeting is planned for 6-9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009, at the Spokane Community College’s Sasquatch Room in the Lair Building #6, 1810 N Greene St., Spokane.

You can view and download the report at:

Frequently Asked Questions about the Water Quality Improvement Report:

Frequently Asked Questions about Effective Public Commenting:

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