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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

City of Spokane, Kendall Yards team up to clean, use stormwater

Rain can wash pollutants into the Spokane River

A portion of the concrete cover is placed on top of a stormwater retention tank by workers with Hite Crane and Rigging at the Kendall Yards site on Monday. (Colin Mulvany)
A portion of the concrete cover is placed on top of a stormwater retention tank by workers with Hite Crane and Rigging at the Kendall Yards site on Monday. (Colin Mulvany) Buy this photo

The last chance to look into a 270,000-gallon stormwater tank came and went Monday as workers slid the 50,000-pound lids onto the tank at the eastern edge of Kendall Yards.

The $1.6 million project at the Monroe Street Bridge’s north end may not excite emotions, but it is a sign of things to come in Spokane: stopping rainwater from entering the Spokane River and filtering it naturally of contaminants such as PCBs. Kendall Yards and the city are splitting the cost.

“Stormwater is such a huge component of the city’s system,” said Bart Mihailovich, director of Spokane Riverkeeper. “Every city of decent size is dealing with it. … Everyone talks stormwater.”

It was the threat of a lawsuit from Riverkeeper that led to an ordinance encouraging innovative approaches to handling stormwater, like what’s happening in Kendall Yards.

The ordinance, which will be considered by the Spokane City Council on Aug. 26, will allow developers to cut up to 40 percent off their stormwater fee bill, which comes to about $900 for every acre of impervious surfaces like parking lots and buildings.

Specifically, developers can cut up to 20 percent off their fees if they install dry wells, grassy swales or detention ponds. Another 10 percent can be subtracted if the developers implement low-impact development facilities, such as pervious pavement and vegetated roofs. Finally, another 10 percent can be taken off the bill if the captured stormwater is filtered and used for another purpose, like watering lawns.

In Kendall Yards’ case, the new tank will simply be a waypoint before the water gets pumped to a pond in the proposed Olmsted Brothers Green park.

The two-acre park and pond will act as biofilters, even during large storms, said Jason Wheaton, president of Greenstone, Kendall Yards’ developer. Most of the stormwater will be treated in the pond, but during heavy rain, the park’s grass will help filter.

“We have dry wells, and they’ll probably always be dry,” he said, excluding the occurrence of a 100-year storm. “If it’s raining hard enough where you’ll see it on the grass, nobody’s going to want to be outside anyway.”

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