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Avista projects in downtown Spokane to enhance the Spokane River

Downtown visitors will see equipment and workers
 
SPOKANE, Wash. Aug. 11, 2011: Locals and visitors to the downtown stretch of the Spokane River will see work activity ramp up over the next few weeks as river flows drop to summer levels and Avista continues work on several projects to protect and enhance fish, wildlife, water quality, recreation, cultural and aesthetic resources related to its Spokane River hydroelectric project.
 
“We are into the third year of our 50-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to operate Avista’s five hydroelectric dams on the Spokane River,” Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River License Manager for Avista, said. “These projects have significant environmental and aesthetic benefits for the Spokane community. They also meet the conditions set forth in the license.”
 
Visitors will see equipment, workers and temporary work structures in and around the river between Avista’s Upper Falls and Monroe Street dams, including a crane above the Monroe Street Dam, beginning this week. The public should stay out of the river bed and keep clear of designated work areas for safety reasons.
 
“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we begin construction on these projects,” Fitzhugh said.
 
The work taking place includes construction of a viewing platform near Upper Falls Dam, phase two of the aesthetic flows project in the north and south channels of the river near Canada Island, and rock and sediment removal at the Monroe Street Dam.
 
The new viewing platform will help Avista crews access Upper Falls Dam for maintenance, which includes sector gate refurbishments and system upgrades. Once the work is complete, park visitors will have a permanent spot to enjoy views of the river.
 
The Upper Falls aesthetic project is related to the aesthetic spills requirement of Avista’s FERC license. Avista will modify the river channels in order to return them to a more natural state, as they were before early developers in Spokane cut into the bedrock to collect and funnel water during dry times. Last year, Avista brought together several groups representing agencies, community members and non-profit organizations to take part in a pilot test for this project. This year, Avista is moving forward with the study recommendations. Once complete, viewers will be able to enjoy the falls throughout the entire year.
 
Immediately before and during construction, Avista will not release flows into the channels to the north and south of Canada Island.
 
See the attached map and handout for specific details, locations and approximate construction timelines for these projects.
 
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 electric service to 357,000 customers and natural gas to 317,000 customers.

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