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Panel will discuss what to do to preserve Spokane River

Sat., Sept. 23, 2006

Robbi Castleberry has called the Spokane a “spiritual river.”

She and her husband, Vic Castleberry, have boated the Spokane River since the 1970s. They’ve taught other people to explore it as they do, in canoes, and have been involved in river-safety, education and cleanup projects.

“From a recreational point of view, it’s a treasure,” Robbi Castleberry said Friday.

The couple were featured in the year-long Spokane River Dialogues series, published on The Spokesman-Review editorial pages each month, from August 2005 to July 2006. The series featured monthly interviews with people whose daily lives involve the river, including recreation seekers, wastewater dischargers, conservationists, regulators and tribal members.

On Thursday, many from that diverse group will participate in a panel discussion that marks the end of the series. The program, which is free and open to the public, starts at 3:30 p.m. at CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley.

Rebecca Nappi, associate editor and columnist, will moderate. Videographer Colin Mulvany will present a Spokane River video.

Nappi said attendees will learn about the river and what they can do to help preserve it.

“What I heard in the course of the series was that individuals feel like they don’t know what they can do to help preserve the health of the river,” Nappi said.

Among those interviewed for River Dialogues was David Peeler, program manager of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Program.

For a year and a half, Peeler has been involved in a project involving multiple levels of government and industry to find ways to reduce phosphorus pollution in the river. The group has reached a tentative agreement that, if approved, would guide the permitting of wastewater discharges.

His department is also examining how much water there is and how much could be pulled from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer for drinking and irrigation. The aquifer, which extends across the Washington-Idaho border, feeds into the river, and is also fed by it at some points.

Right now “is a critical time in the history of the Spokane River” and a good time to discuss its future, Peeler said.


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