I would like to submit the following response to the letters published June 21 regarding Spokane’s new water rate structure.
Gail Gerlach and Howard Parrett assure us that there is plenty of water in the aquifer for all of us and millions more; a tiered rate structure to encourage conservation isn’t needed. Gerlach suggests that studies show there is enough water to serve 10 times our current population. Her studies must be old ones, because the most recent work by the states of Washington and Idaho in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey shows that we are currently pumping all the water that can be taken from the aquifer without lowering the summer flow over the Spokane River falls downtown. Additional pumping will harm downstream fish populations and impact downstream water rights holders.
Most who argue we have no water shortage in Spokane are either unaware of or ignore the fact that around 80 percent of the water flowing over the falls in the summer is recharge from the aquifer.
With Spokane’s new rate structure, a family using a bit over 8,000 gallons per month – the average use in Spokane – will pay about $4.35. In Boise that same amount of water would be $17.31, and in Seattle it would cost $47.68. The new rates make indoor water use in Spokane a bargain.