Water Programs and Water Resources
Reclaiming and Restoring
Special contributors: Ben Brattebo, Engineer 2; Mike Hermanson, Water Resources Manager: and Nikki Feiten, Water Resources Specialist
Environmental Services is on a winning streak with another essential service that is also award-winning – Water Programs and Water Resources, which are based in the Spokane County Regional Water Reclamation Facility (SCRWRF).
For the second year in a row, the SCRWRF was recognized by the State Department of Ecology for the “Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance” Award. The SCRWRF, along with the Latah Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (featured in last week’s spotlight), was one of 125 facilities (out of 300 statewide) that achieved full compliance with its NPDES Permit in 2019. This is truly impressive considering that the average daily flow to the SCRWRF is 7.76 million gallons! We also extend our special thanks to the county’s contractor Jacobs Engineering, for the plant’s successful operation.
As we know, water is a precious and limited resource. In fact, it’s availability can affect future growth and development. Such was the case in 2016, when the Washington State Supreme Court decision changed how counties decide to approve or deny building permits that use wells for a water source. issued its ruling on Whatcom County.
In the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise, et al. decision (often referred to as the "Hirst decision"), the court ruled that the county failed to comply with the Growth Management Act requirements to protect water resources. The effects of that ruling were far-reaching.
In January 2018, the Washington State Legislature passed ESSB 6091 to address the “Hirst Decision” that had limited the issuance of building permits for single family residences in the Little Spokane River Basin. The new law requires a watershed plan to be developed to “offset” the water use projected to occur over the next twenty years by new single family residences using individual wells.
The Water Resources group led the development of the watershed plan and are now in the final stages of receiving approval. To implement the plan, we are in the process of acquiring water rights which will be retired to offset new use. We have also developed preliminary designs for managed aquifer recharge projects that infiltrate water into aquifers during spring’s high-flow months, which then flow to surface water during summer’s low-flow months. We have applied for $1.2 million in grant funding for design and construction of water offset projects and expect to hear at the end of September as to whether we will receive funding.
Saltese Flats Wetland Restoration
Wetland restoration at Saltese Flats (south of Spokane Valley) is in full swing. This spring, the newly installed water control structures were put to good use. For the first time in decades, water was allowed onto the “Flats” in a controlled fashion, flowing from the southern reservoir north through the site. Water elevations were typical of an average year.
Then in May, the first portion of the trail system was opened to the public. The elevated gravel trail was opened for use by hikers, cyclists and equestrians alike. A full opening of a looped trail system totaling about 5 miles is planned for the summer of 2021.
This year’s construction activities include excavating three ponds and channel features for additional habitat complexity. This work is being performed by Ducks Unlimited and is funded mostly by a State Recreation and Conservation Office Grant awarded in 2019. This work will be completed in the next few months.
Planning for the Doris Morrison Learning Center also took another step forward this summer, with the selection of ALSC Architects to lead the design phase. The center is planned to be located on the northern end of the site with a completion target of fall 2021. When completed, the center will focus on hosting school groups for education and will also be open to the public providing an interpretive gallery displaying topics related to the area.
More information can be found at: