Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fish in the Spokane River Safe to Eat?
The Washington Department of Health issued the following PCB fish advisory in 2003: Do not eat fish caught from the Idaho border to Upriver Dam. Eat no more than one fish per month from Upriver Dam to Nine Mile Dam. This advisory was reviewed in 2007 and no changes were made. Below Nine Mile Dam, there is a Lake Roosevelt mercury advisory for walleye. There is also a statewide mercury advisory for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Limiting your consumption of bass to 2 meals per month is recommended.
Is the Water Quality Safe for Swimming, Water Sports, and Recreating on Beaches?
Yes. There are, however, nine popular recreational shoreline locations between the Idaho border and Upriver Dam identified as potential areas of concern for lead and arsenic. These locations are now in the process of being cleaned up or further evaluated. For all possible contaminants in sand or soil, it is always safest to wash hands, face, feet, and toys before eating and/or leaving a beach.
Who Sets and Enforces Water Quality Regulations?
The federal Clean Water Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. EPA partners with states and tribes to implement the Clean Water Act with pollution control programs, water cleanup plans (TMDLs), permits for wastewater treatment and other facilities, and other tools. The Washington Department of Ecology is the lead state agency responsible for working with EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act in Washington.
Who is Responsible for Cleanup and Restoration Activities?
PCB cleanup work behind Upriver Dam was supervised by Ecology and funded by Avista Development, Inc. and Kaiser Aluminum as part of a settlement agreement. EPA (Superfund) and Washington State funded cleanup and restoration of the Starr Road recreation area. Cleanup actions at seven additional shoreline sites between the Idaho border and Upriver Dam are being funded by the State of Washington and implemented by Ecology. As cleanup and restoration activities proceed, sources of funding and responsibility for carrying out actions are expected to vary.
Who is Paying for Investigations?
Ecology is currently taking the lead in identifying sources and pathways of PCBs, PBDEs and dioxins/furans entering the Spokane River. Many agencies and stakeholders will be engaged in this process and, depending on findings and needs, may contribute to further investigations.
Where Can I Get More Information?
Washington Department of Ecology
Washington Department of Health Toll Free: 1-800 (877) 485-7316
Environmental Protection Agency
Spokane Regional Health District
Center for Justice
The Lands Council
Washington Citizens Advisory Committee