Local News

A powerful Spokane River is recharging our aquifer

A powerful Spokane River is...

The Spokane River is putting on a spectacular show of water power, but at the same time, recharging our aquifer and protecting us from future droughts.

The wettest February on record is helping to refill Spokane's aquifer and water tables on the West plains.

The Spokane-Rathdrum aquifer was accidentally discovered back in 1894 when crews were digging a foundation for the day.

The city sunk its first well there across the river and ever since then, the aquifer has become an irreplaceable part of our lives.

The well was first dug in 1907 but even today, you can walk inside this building and peer into the very top of our aquifer.

“We do have an amazing resource in that aquifer,” said Marlene Feist, City of Spokane. “10 trillion gallons in that aquifer serving 500,00 people in the Spokane Coeur d'Alene area with fresh drinking water everyday.”

And the really good news is that all this dreary, wet weather is refilling this gravel-filled water bed. The aquifer's elevation is five feet higher than normal for this time of year.

“When the river is really high it donates more water to the aquifer and that's a good thing because it recharges those levels and provides us with drinking water for all kinds of people.”

Even people who rely on wells outside the aquifer are getting their ground water recharged.

Back in 2015, Fogle Pump and Supply was deepening wells on the West Plains.

Now two wet winters in a row is putting water in our underground bank account.

But for people who live in the Spokane Valley, a rising aquifer, swollen river, and saturated soils, could lead to leaks to their basements for the first time in 20 years.

“If you think you are in a groundwater influence area, go downstairs, take a look, and move your valuables off the road,” said Feist. “It will save you some heart ache down the road.”

At Upriver, dam operators have all but two of their gates open. There is a tremendous amount of debris roiling around here in the tailrace.

A dock used by Gonzaga's rowing team broke away from it's moorings and is still stuck on the other side of the power house intake.