Spokane River Basin

Photo of a Spokane River

Photo of Jeremy Schmidt - ERO TCP

River Facts:

  • The Spokane River (map) flows 112 miles from Post Falls Dam, Idaho to Lake Roosevelt (the Upper Columbia River) in Washington.
  • Seven dams along the river generate hydroelectricity.
  • The River encompasses over 6,000 square miles in Washington and Idaho.
  • Hangman (Latah) Creek and the Little Spokane River are two of the major tributaries.
  • As many as 17 fish species could be encountered in the river from Idaho to Nine Mile Dam.

Projects making a difference

Water quality permits

Ecology reviews and reissues water quality permits on a 5-year cycle to ensure facilities are continuing to meet clean water standards. Permits for five facilities that discharge wastewater into the Spokane River are scheduled to be updated in 2016.

Permits for all Spokane River facilities require limits on nutrients like phosphorus that deplete oxygen fish and other animals need to survive. Proposed permits include intermediate targets for meeting final limits of nutrients and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and require continued participation in the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force.

We are currently evaluating public comments for three of the five permits before finalizing them. Permits for Inland Empire Paper Company and Spokane County will be available for review later this year.

Facility Permit Documents Public Reviews Comments Received
City of Spokane Draft permit Aug. 2 - Sept. 13, 2016 All facilities
Specific to City of Spokane
Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District Draft permit Aug. 2 - Sept. 13, 2016 All facilities
Specific to Liberty Lake
Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood Works Draft permit Aug. 2 - Sept. 13, 2016 All facilities
Specific to Kaiser
Inland Empire Paper Company Current permit and reports To be determined N/A
Spokane County Current permit and reports To be determined N/A


Ecology, tribes, other agencies, stakeholders, and the general public are working to find wise solutions and improve and preserve the Spokane River.  Links to some of these projects are listed below and in the columns on the left and right.

Instream Flows for the Spokane River - Order on Petition for Declaratory Judgment Regarding the Validity of an Agency Rule, and Petition for Judicial Review of Agency Action Denying Petition to Amend Agency Rule- June 30, 2017

Cleanup Completed at 8 Beach Sites and/Upriver Dam/Donkey Island

Historic mining practices in the Coeur d’Alene basin resulted in contaminants known as heavy metals washing downstream from Idaho.  These metals such as lead, arsenic, zinc, and cadmium settled in sediments at certain shorelines along the Spokane River.  Eight beaches identified for cleanup are now completed.  PCBs at Upriver Dam and Donkey Island were also addressed.

Fish Consumption Rule Proposed for WA State

On October 8, 2015, Governor Inslee directed Ecology to draft a new clean water rule that will preserve the state's decision-making control over how to meet federal requirements.

Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force

Thirteen governmental agencies, private industries, and environmental organizations signed a Memorandum of Agreement to form the task force.  The task force is leading efforts to find and reduce toxics in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane.

Strategy for Reducing Toxics in the Spokane River Watershed

This is Ecology’s strategy, or “road map,” for reducing and removing toxic contamination in water, water sediments and soil in the Spokane River watershed in Washington State. It includes major actions already accomplished. The strategy spans across multiple Ecology programs and address toxic substances in the products we buy to cleanups of legacy pollutants in the Spokane community.

Urban Waters Initiative

A team of Ecology scientists, technical staff, and specialists from the Spokane Regional Health District are sampling water and visiting businesses along the river to identify sources of toxic chemicals that affect the river.  Reports that track sources may be found on the Urban Waters website.

Water Quality Improvement Projects (TMDLs)

Water Quality Assessment (303[d])

Get Involved in River Issues

Related Information


Photo of a Spokane River

Spokane River Urban Waters Source Investigation and Data Analysis Report 2009-2011 - Tracing the Source for PCB, PBDE, Dioxin/Furan, Lead, Cadmium, and Zinc

Liberty Lake Source Trace Study for PCB, PBDE, Metals, and Dioxin/Furan

Study finds PCBs are decreasing in the Spokane River, but are still at unhealthy levels. 

Related Information:


  Picture of fish