Our Most Vital Resource

August 25, 2023

One of the greatest highlights of quality of life here in the Inland Northwest is water. From beautiful lakes and rivers to our expansive aquifer, many of us live here because of our water resources. And whether you kayak, paddleboard, waterski, or just enjoy watching a sunset over a still summer lake, chances are you’ve only scratched the surface of what water in our community has to offer.

clone tag: 8720603522995685975

This time of year, water becomes even more prominent and vital to our everyday lives are fire crews all over the region work to contain and extinguish sometimes catastrophic blazes in our outdoor spaces. Helicopters and firefighting planes dip into our lakes and rivers to quell the flames. As water flows, literally and figuratively, through our community, it is critical that we realize how delicate and finite our water systems can be.

According to the Spokane Riverkeeper, as of this week, the Spokane River is flowing at 767 cubic feet per second. This constitutes an “extreme hydrologic drought” for our River. When river flows are this low, it threatens aquatic life. The water is too shallow and too warm for many of the fish who rely on the river for life.

As organizations like the Riverkeeper monitor the health of our water systems, there are other entities in place to help people like you and me become more responsible consumers of our water resources. In Spokane, community members can participate in the Water Wise program. This program offers home visits to evaluate residential water usage and recommend water-saving tips, techniques, and upgrades—upgrades that are often eligible for money back through the program. They also offer Designer at Your Door services where a landscape architect will help you create a landscape plan that requires less water than traditional lawns.

In Kootenai County, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance works with the City of Coeur d’Alene Water Department to raise awareness of water conservation issues and provide rebate credits for water-friendly landscape work. The Kootenai Shoshone Soil and Water Conservation District works with farmers to apply conservation practices that will improve their land and the broader environment as well.

As water use spikes during the summer months, mostly due to the irrigation of lawns, we at the Conservancy encourage our community to consider ways to reduce that usage. While our water comes from the aquifer, drawing down the aquifer has a direct impact on our River. So the next time you watch a sunset, pull a paddle through a small riffle or cast your line into a shaded pool, remember that there are millions of life forms relying on this water for life—and you’re one of them. Let’s all work together to protect our most precious local resources.

More sources:

Spokane County Conservation District

Water Wise Spokane

City of Coeur d’Alene Water Department

Kootenai Environmental Alliance

Spokane Riverkeeper