Rivers are earth’s circulatory system … nature’s lifeblood. Fish live and spawn in them. They provide homes for lots of other wildlife, big and small. For humans, rivers are also a whole lot of fun on boats, kayaks, and canoes.
These invaluable resources must be cared for to the best of our collective ability. Avista team members and the great partners you’ll read about below are finding new ways to keep our rivers clean and healthy.
Restoring the Upper Falls
Long ago, the Upper Falls section of the Spokane River was modified in order to divert water to flour and lumber mills, and for other uses. Even after those uses stopped, the modifications still changed the river’s flow, reducing the beauty and sound of the natural falls that existed before.
In 2012, Avista restored the channels by strategically installing weirs that look like the natural bedrock. Collectively, the weirs spread water more evenly through the two channels, and across the full face of the falls, just as nature did originally. The result is a more picturesque falls that can be viewed all year long, and that sounds beautiful too.
Our team also found that optimal visual and audible effects could be achieved using less water than before. That “extra” water was diverted back to the pump house instead of being spilled, preserving power generation along with the falls.
Helping Bull Trout Return Home
By analyzing the DNA of bull trout heading upstream to spawn, we are able to move them above our dams to the mouth of the stream they were born in. This helps ensure the success of future generations of bull trout. Combined with years and miles of stream habitat restoration and protection, we and our partners are bringing back bull trout in the watershed.
Fighting Erosion on the Clark Fork
At the mouth of the Clark Fork River, where it meets Lake Pend Oreille, lies the Clark Fork Delta. For years it’s been eroding, and important habitat has been lost. Avista, the Bonneville Power Administration and the state of Idaho have worked together on the restoration effort, which included more than 50,000 tons of rock for rebuilding shorelines, and the planting of 90,000 trees and shrubs in the restored areas. The Delta is now rebuilding itself, and more fish, birds and other wildlife are making the delta their home.
Labors of Love
The rivers around Spokane are beautiful and thriving. We know that operating hydroelectric facilities means caring for the rivers that flow through them. It’s one of our responsibilities, and but even more, it’s a labor of love.