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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

City Of Spokane and The Lands Council partner on stormwater pilot project in Shadle Park

The City of Spokane
and The Lands Council are partnering on a pilot project to add a few green stormwater management features, dubbed commonly as “Storm Gardens,” in the Shadle Park neighborhood. The City is contracting with The Lands Council to reach out to neighborhood residents and businesses to talk about stormwater and the benefits of using such green strategies, generally called low impact development within Washington State.

The Lands Council also will work to identify property owners interested in having a garden installed that will capture stormwater and filter it on site. The gardens would include native plants and special soils, including a layer of biochar, a charcoal-like material that is a by-product of biomass facilities.

Monroe St. bridge closed for two weeks due to stormwater project

Heads up: The Monroe Street Bridge will be closed for about two weeks starting this Monday, June 3rd. Motorists will be detoured over the Spokane River via the Washington Street Bridge, and delays should be anticipated. Motorists also can use the Maple Street Bridge.

The closure will accommodate utility work needed for a project that will manage stormwater from some City streets and from streets and other hard surfaces within the Kendall Yards development. The $1.6 million joint City Of Spokane project requires significant excavation work at the north end of the bridge, ultimately catching stormwater that is currently flowing, untreated, into the Spokane River. It will now direct runoff to a retention tank, then pump it to a treatment area in a new park being built to the west on the Kendall Yards site, called Olmsted Green.

This project is consistent with a new Integrated Clean Water Plan the City is developing to manage stormwater and wastewater that impacts the Spokane River. The plan will prioritize projects based on their positive environmental impact to the river. It will include projects to reduce untreated discharges to the river from both separated storm sewers and combined sanitary and stormwater sewers.  

The Lands Council partners with Sheriff Knezovich for “The Green Sleeves Project”

The Lands Council has developed a new effort, "The Green Sleeves Project" in which they will be working with Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and the Spokane County Corrections Labor Program (SCCLP) to restore, and revitalize local watersheds.

It sounds like a win-win with the goal of reducing recidivism and promoting alternative sentencing in Spokane County, while at the same time cleaning and protecting our local watersheds.

Here are the three main components:

1. A hands-on, labor effort in which SCCLP will work to remove invasive weeds and plant/water trees on the banks of Hangman, Deep, Coulee Creeks, and their tributaries. They are also putting together a stormwater proposal for the City of Spokane that will involve Green Sleeves.

2. A secondary education and labor effort directly targeting offenders participating in the Jail-Alternative program in hopes of promoting more alternative forms of sentencing.

3. A hands-on education program located in Geiger Correctional Facility. This will include traditional classes taught on site, and field classes taught in a native tree and plant nursery also located at Geiger.  

Saturday’s highlights

WVHS sprinter-jumper Terrynce Duke runs through block starts Wednesday at the school. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

All I have to say is that Monday came much too early this week. With that said, let's move forward with some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the Central Valley School District's new computer system that allows students and parents to check progress online. The new software also means that teachers don't have to hand schedule students anymore.

The city of Spokane Valley held a public meeting last week to go over a planned stormwater improvement project on 14th Avenue between Carnahan Road and Custer Street. The project is expected to be completed this summer and should end the frequest flooding and erosion after heavy rains.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on West Valley senior Terrynce Duke, who is becoming a standout track athlete after years of playing football and basketball.

Meeting tonight on 14th Ave. stormwater project

The city of Spokane Valley will host a public meeting tonight to discuss a planned stormwater improvement project on 14th Avenue between Custer St. and Carnahan Road. There has been a problem of erosion in the area after rains. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Park Place Assisted Living Center, 511 S. Park Road. There will be time for residents to ask questions.

The planned work include adding curbs, putting in an underground stormwater pipe system and connecting driveways to the edge of the new curb. The work will take place sometime this summer and will last between four to eight weeks.

Guide to stormwater in Spokane available online

The Spokane River Forum, Spokane Riverkeeper, the City of Spokane and Gonzaga Environmental Law Clinic have all collaborated to create Spokane’s first definitive stormwater permitting guide. It's called Understanding Stormwater Permitting in the City of Spokane and it's a must-read for anybody who wants to learn more about dealing with the greatest soruce of pollution in the Spokane River.

Right now, a third of stormwater is left untreated, washing contaminates into the river. “In the past, we kept hearing from builders that it was just too complicated, that the information was too spread out," Bart Mihalovich, the Spokane Riverkeeper, told River Forum. "Now there’s no excuse; everything is in one place.”

The project was funded from the 2011 settlement between the City of Spokane and Spokane Riverkeeper regarding PCB discharges into the Spokane River.

Check it out HERE

Saturday’s highlights

During auditions for “I Hate Hamlet,” fight coordinator Brian Rempel, left, and Ignite! Community Theatre’s artistic director, Scott Finlayson cross swords, while Richard Donnelly waits to audition for the role of John Barrymore. “I Hate Hamlet” opens April 12. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

I'm bringing everyone the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice a day late this week. I took yesterday off to spend a little quality time with my comfy recliner and my lap cat.

The city of Spokane Valley hosted a public meeting last week to talk about a proposed stormwater project planned for this summer in the Valleyview neighborhood. There has been problems with runoff on the west side of Dickey Road washing out some areas and flooding a street. The city plans to install underground piping to take the runoff down the street to a swale it will built on land it owns on 11th Avenue.

Correspondent Jill Barville wrote a story on the new home of Ignite! Community Theatre. The group is now putting on performances in the Spokane Valley Partners building. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that the city of Millwood is on solid financial footing thanks to increases in water rates and not spending as much as budgeted in some areas.

Reporter Nicole Hensley reports that the Central Valley School District is looking as new textbooks for history, civics, psychology and sociology classes. The books the district currently uses haven't been updated since the 1990's. Some students and their parents are helping evaluate possible textbooks.

Bettman Road project meeting tonight

The city of Spokane Valley is hosting a public meeting tonight to talk about a planned stormwater project along the east side of Bittman Road and Dickey Street between 11th and 14th Avenues this summer. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Park Place Assisted Living, 511 S. Park Road. The project calls for swales, installing underground pipes and possibly removing some landscaping in the public right of way. Call (509) 720-5013 for more details on the project.

This is how you curb stormwater pollution

During the downpour in Spokane yesterday - that picked up more inches of rain than the last 86 days combined - you could see the runoff on in the street, entering drains on the way to the river. It was a sad sight. Here's a solution, one you can spend a lot of time reading. It's Sightline's special report on cleaning up the northwest's toxic runoff, much of it relevant to Spokane. (See our list of where Spokane River pollution comes from.) Check their series HERE

Stormwater doesn't match the traditional image of pollution. There are no factory smokestacks belching waste. Yet polluted stormwater packs a punch. Runoff from streets and highways is the number one source for petroleum and other toxic chemicals that wash into the Northwest's rivers, lakes, and bays. Sightline's report, Curbing Stormwater Pollution, looks at the challenges we face and the opportunities we have to clean up our waterways.

Spokane Urban Forestry street tree inventory begins

Work has begun on the City’s street tree inventory project that will assist City staff in identifying stormwater management opportunities and inform urban forestry planning and management. This inventory will be integrated into the City's street tree management tool and the City's Geographical Information System (GIS.)

The new inventory and its analysis will provide City staff crucial data about the structure, condition, value, and function of its public trees. The trees to be inventoried are within the City’s street rights-of-way.

Workers from the Davey Resource Group, a division of the Davey Tree Expert Company, plan to gather the data through November of this year.

Taking stock of the urban forest with a tree inventory helps a community develop a plan of action to manage its community forest and achieve community goals for a safe, healthy, sustainable community tree resource.

Meeting on Sprague Ave. swale project

The City of Spokane Valley is having a community meeting tonight to get input on a planned stormwater swale project along Sprague Avenue between Park Road and the I-90 overpass. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Park Place Assisted Living Center, 511 S. Park Road. The project will allow for better treatment of stormwater in addition to adding grass and trees along Sprague. At the same time the road will be narrowed and the pavement will be ground down and overlayed with new asphalt. The city is looking for input on the best places to put the trees and possible changes on driveways.

Coming Thursday

The Valley crew has been hard at work this week getting everything ready for Thursday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in the local school districts (East Valley, West Valley, Central Valley and Freeman) to see how district enrollment is doing. We'll have a story on the new Saltese natural area and a report on Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. There was a lengthy discussion on stormwater projects that are eligible for grant money. There were a bunch of other topics covered, but those will have to wait until Saturday's Valley Voice. Don't forget to pick up your paper in the morning to check out the stories.

Calmer council meeting tonight

Tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting looks calmer and hopefully shorter than the last couple of weeks. There are only ten items on the agenda, including a vote on a survey contract for the Sullivan bridge replacement and the comprehensive plan amendment docket. There will also be report on a Convention Center update, stormwater grants, economic development and railroad quiet zones. If one of those topics attracts your interested, head to City Hall at 11707 E. Sprague at 6 p.m. tonight. The meeting is a study session, so the only public comment taken will be on the two items up for a vote.

Test your knowledge with the Spokane stormwater survey

The City of Spokane’s Wastewater Management Department is asking citizens to take a quick, on-line survey to gauge knowledge of stormwater pollution and improve education efforts around this issue. The survey is available at www.spokanewastewater.org/stormwatersurvey.aspx.  Citizens also will be reminded about the survey in an insert in their City utility bills.

Stormwater is defined as rain or snowmelt that runs over surfaces including driveways, streets, and sidewalks before flowing through an underground stormwater collection system and into the Spokane River.  On its journey, stormwater picks up pollutants, such as pet waste, excess fertilizer, and leaked motor oil.  Aquatic life, plants, and humans are impacted by polluted stormwater.

City of Spokane Wins EPA PISCES Award for Innovative Stormwater Project

Good news: Today, the City of Spokane received the prestigious PISCES Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for successfully demonstrating innovative stormwater control strategies on West Broadway Avenue.

Polluted stormwater now is considered the leading cause of urban water pollution and the largest source of pollution in the Spokane River. Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. As water runs off these surfaces, it can pick up pollution such as: oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash, and animal waste. From here, the water might flow directly into a local stream, lake, or the Spokane River. Or, it may go into a storm drain and continue through storm pipes until it is released untreated into the river.

The Spokane Riverkeeper stormwater quiz

Another day, another challenge. But that Spokane Riverkeeper is keeping busy, this time with two tests in one day. The Riverkeeper is collecting answers from you on what you know about stormwater and the management of it in our area. Please take a few minute so they can get a better sense of what you know, or don’t know, which will help with education efforts.

From the Riverkeeper: National surveys reveal that the public believes the biggest source of water pollution is industry. Here in the Spokane River Watershed, that just isn’t true.

When it rains, it pours. When it rains on the urban landscape it pours toxic mixture of Valvoline, Weed-be-Gone, Miracle-Gro, tire dust, Lucky Strikes, dog poop and other crud into stormdrains then into our Spokane River and its tributaries. From street to stream, the urban storm sewer system carries this nasty cocktail.

New job opportunity: Stormwater project manager

It's not everyday one sees a Spokane posting on the Grist job board but I thought I would pass this along if readers are interested. Check the link here and read more below:

Apex Companies, LLC, has a full-time opening for a Stormwater Project Manager in our Spokane, WA office. Apex offers competitive compensation and excellent benefits including medical, dental, 401(k), paid holidays and paid leave, tuition reimbursement, and more!

Apex is seeking a construction project manager with at least 5-10 years experience managing construction field activities; scoping and estimating; and performing stormwater and other excavation projects. In addition to field experience, candidates must be proficient with MS Word, Excel, and Outlook; demonstrate excellent safety performance; and possess strong project management skills (costing, budgeting, execution, and deadlines) and excellent oral and written communication skills. Experience operating heavy equipment, supervising project staff and subcontractors, and interacting with clients and regulatory agencies is also required. Washington State Erosion and Sediment Control Supervisor certification is preferred. A pre-hire background check will be conducted on the selected candidate.


Environmental regulators now carrying police-style ticket books…

Inspectors from the Washington state Department of Ecology have started carrying ticket books when they check for water pollution at construction sites, industrial operations or sand and gravel mines. The tickets carry fines of $500 to $3,000. On field visits, the agency says, it’s common to find oil spills, muddy runoff pouring out of construction sites and similar problems. Being able to write a ticket on the spot “will provide near-immediate consequences,” according to water quality program manager Kelly Susewind. Ecology doesn’t keep the money from the fines. It goes to local governments and tribes for water quality improvements and restoration work.