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Spokane department’s calendar idea drips with futility

What have they been drinking over at the Spokane Water Department?

At least that would explain why these wet brains blew some $40,000 to put out their annual Water Quality Report for the first time as a full-color, glossy calendar.

And here I thought Spokane was in a budget crisis. Ratepayer money must be bubbling up from the floor at the Water Department, I guess.

Bill Rickard, the city’s water quality coordinator, told me his department had 70,000 calendars printed at 44 cents a pop. Most of the calendars will be mailed out for 20 cents each. Some will be distributed by hand. A smaller number of calendars will be given away.

If you’re a city water user and haven’t received your very own Water Department calendar, just wait.

The calendars, Rickard added, are still being mailed out.

One arrived at the ol’ Clark homestead the other day. At first I thought it was a mailing from the re-elect Mayor Mary Verner campaign.

The calendar cover, after all, is adorned with a color photograph of the mayor beaming next to an American flag. Normally when you see a politician grinning next to Old Glory you can almost make book that the caption will read: “Vote for Me!”

But then I looked a little closer. I saw that this was from the Water Department. Furthermore, the mayor’s adjoining message was not about politics, but about conserving aqua.

“Working together, we can make a lasting difference for our community,” she states. “Slow the Flow!”

Mayor Verner should care as much about wasting paper. If so, she would have told the Water Department to scrap the dopey calendar and save some trees.

Now in fairness, some of the information contained inside the Water Department calendar must be made available to utility users.

I have no beef with that – even though you’d never catch me reading any of it.

I’m a simple soul. Keep the toilets flushing. Keep the faucets flowing. And don’t waste my money.

That’s all I ask of the Spokane Water Department.

My point is that all this so-called “vital” information could have been boiled down to the size of a modest holy-roller pamphlet and published at a fraction of the cost of a calendar.

Instead, the Water Department has filled its calendar with a lot of worthless hoo-ha.

May, if you can believe it, showcases five varieties of Spokane fireplugs in living color.

“The City of Spokane maintains at least 7,228 fire hydrants,” brags the text.

To which the city of Spokane canines say, “We ruff you!”

Oh, did I mention that the Water Department calendar begins not in January, but in July?

That’s right. This is a July 2010 to June 2011 calendar, which really adds to the overall uselessness.

Memo to Water Department:

Everybody I know ALREADY HAS A CALENDAR!!!

And for those few who don’t have a calendar, I ask you: Do you really want a calendar that has a toilet graphic topping the month of August?

“WaterSense, a program sponsored by the U.S. EPA, helps you choose high-performance, water-efficient toilets,” declares the text.


The Water Department could have redeemed things somewhat by using the daily calendar boxes to remind everyone of important city dates. You know, like regularly scheduled City Council meetings, the Lilac Parade, Bloomsday or Council President Joe Shogan’s weekly anger management sessions.

But none of the Einsteins at the Water Department bothered to think of that practical possibility.


What’s that?

That’s the sound 40 grand makes swirling down a low-tech crapper.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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