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Riverkeeper urges Spokane area residents to conserve water as river flows dip

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Conservationists are asking Spokane area residents to cut back on the amount of water they consume.

Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White Jr. says the Spokane River is unusually low, even for this time of year, from a combination of hot, dry weather and water use. He says if flows don’t improve, the river’s ecosystem could be seriously damaged.

“When you no longer have as much habitat for fish, you’re crowding animals into a much narrower space,” White said, “you are drying a lot of the riverbank, and riverbed that would be home to macro invertebrates and other sources of food for larger animals, so your kind of stressing the entire system in that regard.”

White says lowering water levels could also damage recreationally opportunities on the river as well.

Riverflows in the Spokane river.
Courtesy of Jerry White
Riverflows in the Spokane river.

This summer the city council passed a water conservation code that will go into effect next year. White says community members should voluntarily take some of those measures, such as watering their yard two days a week, now. He says the city of Spokane should also take steps to educate the community on water conservation.

“Now that our river flows are declining, this is a great time for every resident of Spokane to take the opportunity to do something positive for their river and begin conserving water,” White said, “We have the guidelines in the city code now, and if we begin to do this, even on a voluntary basis, it really is empowering because it’s one thing that residents through smart use of their irrigation water can actually do and have an impact on their river.”