SPOKANE, Wash. - It's already the second wettest March on record and there's still two days left in the month with more rain in the forecast. Spokane city officials say our underground tanks are flowing smoothly, but work still has to be done.
Just three days into this year's construction season, work is well underway on millions of dollars of new projects across Spokane.
“The bulk of our work this year will be about making the river a cleaner and safer Spokane River,” Kyle Twohig, Engineering Operations Manager for the City of Spokane, said.
The city is investing $75 million to help manage overflows and prevent pollution from reaching the Spokane River.
“This year, we're building five tanks that will be at least 1.5 million gallons, so we're adding more than ten million gallons of storage through these projects that we're starting this year,” Marlene Feist, Spokane Public Works Communications Director, said.
Work started last month on a 2.4 million gallon tank at 1st and Adams. On Monday, crews broke ground on the second biggest project, a 2.2 million gallon tank on Spokane Falls Blvd. Later this summer, an empty lot at Riverside and Lee will house another massive tank.
“They're absolutely critical,” Feist said. “So what we're doing, really, is capturing that wastewater, holding it until the storm surge goes down, and we can send it to our plant for treatment.”
Our recent wet weather has really put these tanks to the test. But Feist says the tanks already in place are performing well. There has been some overflow, but only in spots where the city hasn't put in a tank yet.
All of the work is being paid for by people who live in the city. You contribute when you pay for wastewater services on your utility bill. But if a healthy river is one of the reasons you live in the Spokane area, city officials think it's money well spent.
“The river is our greatest environmental asset. It's a beautiful economic driver. We have to take care of that river for future generations, so that's what we're doing,” Feist said.
City officials are hoping to wrap up construction on the tanks by the end of 2018.