SPOKANE, Wash. - The discovery of water flowing from the ground in Huntington Park in downtown Spokane has prompted Avista to close a small part of the park near the Monroe Street Bridge in the interest of public safety.
The sudden appearance of ground water below the oldest hydroelectric facility in Washington is of concern to Avista officials, however the river gorge is also known for its subterranean springs and this new water may be one of those springs finding a new way to the surface.
Last Tuesday Avista first noticed the water streaming down a Huntington Park stairwell.
"We noticed there was a water increase in an area where we had natural springs before and so one of the first things we did was to make sure we could divert that water away from the powerhouse and back into the normal channels," Avista engineer Andy Vickers said.
Avista doesn't think the ground water is coming from their diversion dam above the park or the pipe that carries the river down into their powerhouse. The flows have appeared at the surface right across the road from a natural spring.
There has been some nearby blasting where the City of Spokane is digging in a new stormwater tank, but Avista officials say their seismographs didn't record any vibrations strong enough to rattle their hydroelectric operations.
"We're coming up with a plan to take the best actions to find the source of this groundwater so we can better understand where it's coming from and control it," Vickers said.
Natural spring water will have a much different chemical fingerprint than river water that's flowed across state lines so that's one of the first tests Avista will run.
Avista officials say the flows that have only closed a small part of the park don't appear to be getting any stronger and so they are in a position to take their time and come up with the best approach to find and control the source of this groundwater.
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