A $310 million plan to cut the amount of pollution flowing into the Spokane River won unanimous endorsement Monday night from the Spokane City Council.
The Integrated Clean Water Plan relies on a combination of improved sewage and wastewater treatment, greater use of strategically located swales and vegetation to naturally soak up more rainfall and installation of gigantic underground tanks to hold millions of gallons of stormwater until it can be processed through the city’s treatment plant.
It’s the largest public works project in the city’s history and is expected to take five to six years to complete.
“We haven’t run into anybody yet who doesn’t like the plan,” said city Utilities Director Rick Romero.
Spokane is among the first in the nation to adopt an integrated plan, which designers say will exceed federal requirements that all cities must comply with by 2017.
The integrated approach also enabled the city to drop the total price tag by $150 million and pledge to limit future utility rate increases to no more than the rate of inflation.
Although portions of the project already are underway, City Council support is expected to increase chances of landing state and federal grants.
Mayor David Condon is looking for state and federal help to pay for at least 20 percent of the project, noting that the city median household income is just 70 percent of the statewide figure and that a healthier Spokane River benefits much of the state because it flows into the Columbia River.