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Settlement Reached on Clean-up of Hangman Creek



A local environmental group says it now has more assurance that a plan to clean up Hangman Creek in Spokane will be successful.

Steve Jackson has more:

The Spokane Riverkeeper has settled a federal lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the Department of Ecology’s plan to clean up pollution in Hangman Creek. 

Pollution in the creek includes high levels of sediment and fecal coliform bacteria, that winds up in the Spokane river. Much of the pollution is traced to poor agricultural practices, like cultivating land up to the water’s edge, or allowing animal waste to enter the water.

Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White says his group believes the original plan was a bit lax when it came to enforcing practices that would protect the creek.

 “The way the process is supposed to work is they are issued a notice of violation, eventually after 7 or 8 contacts. And that is something that had stalled out. And so Ecology was not using its enforcement authority, and oftentimes the mix of carrot and stick is essential to make progress, and that just wasn’t happening, said White.”


Ecology Department spokeswoman Brook Beeler says if they find a problem involving poor agricultural practices, they will usually work with the landowner first through partners like the County Conservation District with technical and financial assistance, before taking any enforcement steps.

 “We would issue some type of administrative order, requiring a land owner to come up with some sort of plan that prevents pollution. We do have the ability to issue monetary penalties, but again our goal is to make the changes on the ground so both the farm and Hangman Creek,  said Beeler”


Beeler says 78 percent of the Hangman watershed is agricultural, but there are other entities that could pose an environmental threat, including golf courses, failing septic systems, or wastewater treatment facilities.

Beeler says there is about 15 million dollars available to help landowners in the greater Spokane River watershed prevent damaging runoff.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.