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New Plaza Opened In Downtown Spokane Atop Huge Wastewater Tanks

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane city officials today [Friday] celebrated the completion of the huge underground tank project that has closed Spokane Falls Boulevard near the downtown library for months.

The storage tanks can hold more than two million gallons of wastewater until it can be discharged to the city’s water reclamation plant.

The city built a new public plaza with a view of the Spokane River and its lower falls on top of the facility.

Mayor David Condon says the project helped the city to think differently about how to approach big, complicated projects.

"From the very beginning, we began to look and explore the concept of integration. The work led to our integrated clean water plan, which saved some $150 million and gave us better pollution reduction benefits," Condon said. "It sparked the idea that we should create above-ground benefits when we’re building below-ground infrastructure. This plaza is a perfect example of that.”

The plaza is adorned with metal art pieces celebrating the historic role of Native fishing at the site of the falls.

“These falls over here, for 100 days every year, our tribe would fish an average of a thousand salmon out of this river," said Jeff Ferguson, the project's lead artist. "We would pull, on average, 30-pound salmon. They would get as large, in June, as 110 pounds and over five feet long. When they would ride away with the horses, the salmon would drag from the saddle horns. It was an amazing site to see.”

The plaza will be open to the public this week and then closed again for some final work.