May 29, 2009 in City
In brief: Avista’s natural gas rate to drop June 1
Washington state regulators have approved a rate decrease for Avista Utilities’ natural gas customers, taking effect June 1.
The average bill for a typical residential customer will drop by about $7, or 8.1 percent, to $79.43, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission announced Thursday. In January, the commission approved a 3 percent decrease for Avista customers.
The commission says the rate drop is in response to excess supply caused by a weak economy, resulting in a sharp decline in wholesale natural gas prices.
Spokane-based Avista has nearly 146,000 natural gas customers in 10 counties, primarily in Eastern Washington.
Health warning issued on Cataldo Flats
The state Department of Environmental Quality is advising people who ride all-terrain and other off-road vehicles to stay away from Asarco’s Cataldo Flats property in North Idaho because of elevated levels of arsenic and lead.
Both pose a human health risk when inhaled or accidentally ingested from contaminated soil and dust, the DEQ said in a news release. The contamination is not new, but use of the area appears to be increasing, said Jess Byrne, DEQ’s intergovernmental affairs coordinator.
Cataldo Flats is private property and “No Trespassing” signs have been placed around the area. Health advisory signs provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also have been posted. Riders are advised to check with off-road vehicle clubs to locate safe and legal places to ride, the release said.
Student diagnosed with swine flu
A Washington State University student has been diagnosed with the H1N1 influenza virus.
The 19-year-old is the first to have the swine-origin flu in Whitman County. He lives off-campus and has recovered from the flu.
With the virus now common – it has now infected 574 Washington residents, including four in Spokane County – state health officials are no longer collecting influenza samples and are instead focusing on serious cases and trends that show who is at highest risk of infection.
Woman found dead in canal is identified
The woman found dead in a Grant County irrigation canal has been identified as Rebecca Fletcher, 48, of Soap Lake.
Fletcher was reported missing April 29. Her body was found in the canal southwest of Quincy, Wash., May 21, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
Family members identified Fletcher through tattoos on her right arm and one on her hand, according to the Grant County Coroner’s Office.