Avista partnered with Spokane Community College and the Stevens County Conservation District to implement the floating wetland project with funding from the Washington Department of Ecology. The project recently completed its third year on Lake Spokane. It provided hands-on environmental education on plant species growth, fish habitat and the ability of the floating wetland structures to reduce wave impact.
My name is Monica Ott, I work for Avista, and I work on the Spokane River License Team. I am the Water Quality Specialist, so I work on all of our 401 certification requirements for Idaho and Washington for water quality, sediment, and erosion. One of the projects that we have in Washington on Lake Spokane is the Floating Wetland Project. And this project started about three years ago with an ecology grant that was granted to Stevens County Conservation District, and they partnered with Spokane Community College, and then we jumped on board to help provide the location as well as some funding, and we have continued to work with those partners for the last few years.
The floating wetlands are essentially a shape, in our case they are four by four squares, that are floating on the water attached to a log boom, and these structures have a lattice on them with plants of different species that survive in water that grow throughout the summer from about June through September, and then in September, we pull them out and you can, which we do, plant them along the shoreline to use them for erosion control and for natural vegetation buffer along the water.
Floating wetlands can be used in smaller areas to do things like improve water quality by pulling nutrients out of the water and metals, they also provide shade, lower the temperature in the water below them, and they also provide habitat for aquatic species.
Ways that we can improve water quality, especially with shoreline best management practices are things like not putting yard waste or lawn clippings into the water. Because as that vegetation material breaks down, it releases nutrients into the water. We can put in more natural shorelines using natural vegetation, which both filters, runoff water that would run into the Lake as well as it builds root systems for the natural vegetation, stabilize the shoreline and reduce erosion. With erosion being a problem because as nutrient rich material like soil comes into the water, it brings us excess nutrients, which we're all about removing.
In the future. We hope that projects like this educational tools or hands-on experiences for students, recreators, or homeowners, anyone interested will help people be more aware of the water quality on Lake Spokane and what they can do to help improve it.