Avista, the Washington Department of Ecology, Inland Empire Paper and the Sierra Club/Center for Environmental Law & Policy have settled major issues related to appeals of the state’s water quality certification requirements.
The certification, under Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act, is an important step in establishing Avista’s new license conditions for hydroelectric projects on the Spokane River. It is anticipated that a new license will be issued this year.
A major component of the settlement requires Avista to participate in improving dissolved oxygen levels in Lake Spokane in a separate process known as the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). Avista will continue to work with the entities who are dischargers of phosphorous, to find ways of improving water quality, including dissolved oxygen, in Lake Spokane. These entities are primarily sewage treatment facilities.
Issues concerning Avista’s routine dredging of sediments behind the Monroe Street Dam have also been addressed. Avista will develop a sediment management plan and will pre-sample sediments under certain conditions to determine whether or not they can be placed back in the river, as requested by state and federal agencies.
Concerns related to Spokane River flows during low water years and associated fisheries studies have also been addressed by the parties.
“It’s great that perspectives from so many parts of the community came together again to make sure the river is protected,” said Grant Pfeifer who manages the Department of Ecology’s Eastern Washington office.
“Avista is committed to the careful stewardship of our natural resources, and we continually strive to balance our environmental responsibilities with providing our customers clean, reliable and affordable power,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River license manager.
One part of the 401 certification, dealing with aesthetic spills at Upper Falls in downtown Spokane, is still under appeal; however, settlement discussions are ongoing with the Sierra Club. If settlement is not reached, the matter will be heard by the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board in May.
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 314,000 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, 2007, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2008.
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