The City of Spokane’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection rivals other leading cities in the Northwest as well as across the United States. Their efforts to save energy, reclaim treated wastewater, conserve water, protect the Spokane River, and inventory their greenhouse gas emissions have propelled them ahead in the worldwide race to go green. Energy conservation and waste reduction are at the forefront of their strategy. They are also working to identify and address ways that climate change and rising energy prices will impact operations, services, programs, and policies. Spokane’s approach to environmental issues is comprehensive, covering all bases from air, water, land, energy, to living organisms.
Due to its unique location in a river valley with surrounding highlands, Spokane is more susceptible to pollutant trapping inversions. Despite this geographical impairment, Spokane has drastically improved its air quality over the past two decades by implementing stricter vehicle emission controls, burning controls, and street sanding and sand pickup requirements. With the implementation of the Federal Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, Spokane’s water quality continues to improve with each year. Spokane has also put in place an Integrated Clean Water Plan to reduce untreated wastewater and storm water from entering into the Spokane River. In addition to this, the city has built the Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility to mitigate pollution.
Land management stands at the forefront of Spokane’s efforts to protect its natural environments. Through land development, industrial and municipal waste handling, farming and ranching, forestry, and mining operations, the city has encountered significant challenges in preserving its surrounding areas, but it is committed to environmental practices that will help reduce its footprint. As well, maintaining natural biodiversity remains a key issue to the city. Biologists are working hard to attend to this issue and ensure that our environment’s diversity remains intact.