High water use impacts Spokane River flows
H2KNOW: Our Spokane River is Low and the City of Spokane’s Slow the Flow Program joined together today to strongly encourage people to conserve water during our drought, record-high heat, and a drastically reduced river flow.
“We are pleased to join the City of Spokane in strengthening awareness of aquifer-river relationships and an increased call for water conservation,” said John Roskelley, H2KNOW co-organizer, CELP board member and former Spokane County Commissioner. “During this drought summer, governments, businesses, and people are all pumping high levels of water and this is robbing our river of its water. Such extremely low river flows have negative impacts on small businesses, fish and wildlife, family recreation, and the overall identity of our community. ‘Near nature, near perfect’ is more than a slogan, it reflects a deeper relationship with our river.”
Compare the Spokane River at 2500 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the photo on the left, taken July 2014, to 630 cfs in the photo on the right, taken this August from the same spot in Riverside State Park.
Rick Romero, the City’s Utilities Division Director, said, “Just as the City has taken a strong regional leadership role on improving the water quality in the Spokane River through the development of its Integrated Clean Water Plan and plans for more than $300 million in river investments, we want to enhance our leadership role on water conservation efforts and protecting our river flows. We are proud that our citizens already are responding positively. Following record water pumping in June when temperatures were unusually high, our pumping numbers for July are pretty average when looking at the last 25 years of data. And, today, we ask citizens to continue their work to ‘Slow the Flow.’”
Today’s water conservation message builds on approval by the City Council on August 10th of a request to make the position of Education Coordinator for the City’s Water Department full time. As noted by Council Member Jon Snyder:
… We have to have a systemic approach that not only addresses consumer use and how people use water but a whole planning and a whole vision for our water future here in the Spokane area.
… I’m also looking forward for chances for this Council to weigh in on the Water Plan and other Water Policy so we can make some good decisions that will last years into the future. (view statement)
The City and H2KNOW urge Spokane water customers to keep in mind the Spokane River and voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 to 20 percent. This can be achieved through the following and other simple solutions around the home:
- Reduce lawn watering to only twice per week. Don’t water on windy days, and turn off your sprinklers when it rains.
- Water your lawn and garden only at night or in the very early morning; water evaporates in the hot mid-day.
- Take shorter showers and install a low-flow showerhead.
Citizens should also think long-term. Weather forecasters already are predicting that the Pacific Northwest may have another low-snow winter and long, hot summer in 2016. Install low-flow toilets, change your landscaping to remove thirsty lawns and install water-efficient native plants.
H2KNOW is a community awareness campaign is supported by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club, and the Columbia Institute for Water Policy.
Follow Spokane’s Slow the Flow campaign.