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Spokane River cleanup plan sent to EPA

The gondolas at Riverfront Park pass in front of Spokane Falls on Wednesday.  A plan to limit algae- producing phosphorus  in the Spokane River has a range of critics. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
The gondolas at Riverfront Park pass in front of Spokane Falls on Wednesday. A plan to limit algae- producing phosphorus in the Spokane River has a range of critics. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane River will look more like a “Rocky Mountain trout stream” under the state’s final plan to reduce the river’s phosphorus levels by 90 percent within a decade, state officials said.

People will see fewer slimy rocks along the river’s edge. Fish will have more oxygen to breath, and Long Lake will be a whole new waterbody, with oxygenated water extending another 50 feet in depth.

The 111-mile river accepts most of the waste for a 600,000 metro area. For years, local residents enjoyed artifically lower sewer rates at the expense of the river. This plan will change that, said Grant Pfieffer, Ecology’s Eastern Washington director.

After 12 years of effort, Ecology is sending a final cleanup plan to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

The Spokane River-Lake Spokane Water Quality Improvement Plan will reduce the river’s phosphorus by more than 90 percent.

“This plan will make Spokane a nationwide leader in this type of pollution control,” Jani Gilbert, an Ecology spokeswoman said when the plan was announced in September. “It’s innovative, it’s stringent, and it’s something we’ve worked with the community on for years.”

The EPA will have 30 days to review the final plan and notify Ecology of its decision, but it may request an extension.



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