Avista (NYSE: AVA), Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) have settled issues related to Spokane Falls through an aesthetic flow agreement. The settlement resolves the last issue under appeal in the state’s water quality certification requirements.
The agreement requires Avista to maintain minimum flows of water over the Upper Falls’ north and middle channels in Riverfront Park. It also includes provisions for additional aesthetic spills for lower Spokane Falls below the Monroe Street Dam.
Once implemented, the conditions will include a minimum aesthetic spill at Upper Falls of 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) during daylight hours and 100cfs at night. The Monroe Street Dam would also maintain a minimum nighttime spill of 100cfs. The conditions also ensure that the Upper Falls Powerhouse will operate with a minimum flow of 500cfs. In addition, Avista, Sierra Club, CELP and Ecology will work together to explore restoration of the north river channel, in which cuts were made prior to Avista’s hydro development.
“We’re very pleased to have brought this issue to a resolution that will provide a more pleasing experience for park visitors while at the same time allowing Avista to continue generating renewable hydropower at Upper Falls,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Avista Spokane River license manager.
”Water will be restored to Spokane Falls twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and we are thrilled,” said Rachael Paschal Osborn, director of Sierra Club’s Spokane River Project and of the Center for Environmental Law & Policy. “These waterfalls are important from every vantage: cultural, historic, economic and aesthetic. Spokane just took one big step nearer to nature, nearer to perfect.”
“This agreement has been a long time in the making, and we think the solution is a good one for everyone involved. It’s also good for the river. This process shows that environmental concerns and business concerns can find a common ground in resolving difficult problems,” said Jim Bellatty, water quality manager for Ecology’s Spokane office.
The Washington Department of Ecology certification, under Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act, is a major step in establishing Avista’s new license conditions for hydroelectric projects on the Spokane River. Ecology will now issue a revised certification to include the terms of the settlement. It is anticipated that a new license may be issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this year.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides service to 355,000 electric and 315,000 natural gas customers in three Western states. Avista’s primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol “AVA.” For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2009.
Avista Corp. and the Avista Corp. logo are trademarks of Avista Corporation.
About Sierra Club and CELP:
The Upper Columbia River Group of the Sierra Club has 2000 members in northeastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle, focusing on public land and water protection. The Center for Environmental Law & Policy, based in Spokane, works to protect rivers and drinking-water aquifers in the West. Sierra Club and CELP were represented in the waterfalls appeal by the University of Washington Berman Environmental Law Clinic.
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