Spokane River multi-parameter TMDL

The Spokane River and its tributaries are listed on the state’s polluted waters. We're working to better understand and reduce pollution in the Spokane River and develop a plan to improve water quality. Clean water is necessary to support safe recreation, fish, and other aquatic life. 

Why is clean water important?

Keeping the watershed clean is important because toxic metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can harm people and marine life. Also, excess nutrients contribute to algae blooms, which when algae decomposes, it uses up oxygen, potentially stressing fish. Oxygen dissolved in water is vital for fish and aquatic life to "breathe” to survive. It is more difficult to transfer oxygen from water to blood than it is to transfer oxygen from air to blood. Therefore, it is critical that an adequate amount of oxygen is maintained in the water for this transfer to take place efficiently and to sustain aquatic life.

Because of the presence of PCBs in fish, the Washington Department of Health issued a Health Advisory for eating Spokane River fish.  Find out more information about how we're improving spokane watershed

Our water cleanup plan

We facilitate an advisory group that helps us track recommended projects in the water improvement plan. These recommendations reduce nutrients and improve oxygen levels in the river and lake. The Spokane River Forum continues to maintain information related to the implementation of the plan.

What are we doing? 

  • Conservation and environmental groups work directly with landowners to reduce runoff from forestry and agriculture practices. Spokane County's Nonpoint Source Phosphorus Reduction Plan recommends many of these actions.
  • Avista completed a Dissolved Oxygen Water Quality Attainment Plan that outlines activities that will help improve oxygen in Lake Spokane.
  • Spokane adopted an Integrated Clean Water Plan that helps prioritize projects for managing stormwater and wastewater.
  • Cities and industries that release wastewater into the river submit annual monitoring reports on the river's water quality.
  • The five wastewater facilities will upgrade treatment technology and meet strict phosphorus limitations outlined in the water quality improvement plan by 2021.

Related water improvement projects

Waterbody Pollutants Status
Dragoon Creek

Ammonia-N, chlorine, and total phosphorus.

Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Hangman Creek

Fecal coliform, phosphorus, temperature, and TSS/turbidity.

Activities to address these pollutants are expected to also improve dissolved oxygen and pH.

Approved by EPA and has an implementation plan.
Little Spokane River

Dissolved oxygen and pH.

Fecal coliform, temperature, and turbidity.

The plan for fecal coliform, temperature and turbidity is approved by EPA.