U.S. Water News Online
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Avista Corp. has withdrawn its request to
pump 2.8 million gallons of water per day out of the beleaguered
aquifer that serves the Spokane area, saying it will find other ways
to produce more electricity for the growing region.
In 2002, Avista and two other utilities proposed electrical
generating plants that would require millions of gallons a day of
water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, the sole
source of drinking water for about 500,000 people.
Environmental groups vehemently objected on the grounds the
withdrawals might deplete the resource, and Congress appropriated
money to study how much water was in the aquifer. The proposals by
the two other utilities were ultimately denied by Idaho regulators.
Avista said a new review of its future power needs indicated the
utility could find enough electricity without building a new plant on
the Rathdrum Prairie, on the Idaho-Washington border.
Avista spokeswoman Catherine Markson said Monday the company's
recent purchase of 50 percent of the output of the Coyote Springs 2
power plant in Boardman, Ore., will meet many of its future needs.
Avista also plans to rely on wind, coal, biomass, expansion of
existing plants and conservation to produce about 850 additional
megawatts of power over the next 20 years, she said.
In a joint statement, the local Sierra Club, Upper Columbia River
Group and the Idaho Conservation League hailed the decision.
"We applaud Avista's decision to withdraw this proposal," said
Rachael Paschal Osborn, an attorney representing the Sierra Club and
ICL. "Our aquifer is too precious a resource to waste on a
speculative power plant proposal."
The proposal called for taking 2.88 million gallons per day of
water from the aquifer, enough water to irrigate 1,000 acres of land.
Operation of the power plant would have resulted in total evaporation
of the water.
In 2002, the Idaho Department of Water Resources struck down two
similar power plant proposals on the Rathdrum Prairie for failing to
adequately address "conservation of water" as required by Idaho law.
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