Water Quality Improvement Projects
Little Spokane River Area

Introduction

The Little Spokane watershed drains approximately 700 square miles, including regions of north central Spokane County, southern Pend Oreille County, and southeastern Stevens County in northeast Washington, as well as a small section of Bonner County in Idaho. The majority of the watershed, approximately 417 square miles, is in Spokane County. Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties make up approximately 260 square miles of the watershed. Only 23 square miles is located in Bonner County, Idaho. The river is one of the two major tributaries to the Spokane River (Latah/Hangman Creek being the other). The river discharges into the Spokane River at River Mile (RM) 56.3, downstream of Nine Mile Dam.

The major tributaries to the Little Spokane River are Dragoon, Deadman, Little Deep and Deer Creeks as well as the west branch of the Little Spokane River. The largest lakes include Eloika, Diamond, Sacheen, and Horseshoe Lake which are all located in the northern half of the watershed.

Water quality issues

The Little Spokane River, Dragoon Creek, and Deadman Creek are impaired because they do not meet water quality standards for the following parameters:

Little Spokane River Dragoon Creek Deadman Creek Unnamed Creek
Temperature, fecal coliform, pH, & PCBs*

Turbidity and Dissolved oxygen

Dissolved oxygen and fecal coliform bacteria Temperature and pH

Fecal Coliform

Ammonia-N

Dissolved oxygen

*The PCB listing is being addressed as part of the PCB water quality improvement project on the Spokane River.

When a water body does not meet state standards, it is placed on the federal Clean Water Act’s Section 303(d) list of impaired water bodies.

Status of the project

To address the water quality problems in the Washington portion of the watershed, Ecology and the Spokane County Conservation District worked together on a water quality improvement project called a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). A TMDL is a common sense, science-based approach to cleaning up polluted water so that it meets water quality standards.

Ecology developed a TMDL to address low oxygen and high nutrients in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane (Long Lake). The Little Spokane’s contribution of nutrients and sediment to the Spokane River is important to this process and was taken into consideration during the development of a TMDL for the watershed.

Ecology, working with a local advisory group, developed a TMDL for the Little Spokane River Watershed. This TMDL focused on fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, and turbidity issues in the watershed. After a public comment period and responding to comments received, Ecology submitted the final TMDL to EPA for approval in February 2012. EPA approved the TMDL in April 2012.

Ecology is currently working on an additional TMDL to address the dissolved oxygen and pH impairments on the Little Spokane River. This TMDL will likely require reductions in the amount of nutrients reaching the river.

 

Why this matters

Technical information

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Last updated May 2016
 

PROJECT INFO

Location:
WRIA(s): #55 (Little Spokane)
Counties:
Pend Oreille
Spokane
Stevens

Water-body Names:
Little Spokane River
Dragoon Creek
Deadman Creek
Unnamed Creek

Parameters:
Ammonia-N
Dissolved oxygen
Fecal coliform bacteria
PCBs
pH
Temperature
Turbidity

# of TMDLs (for fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, and turbidity): 36

Status:
Fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, and turbidity - TMDL approved
Dissolved oxygen, pH - Under development
PCB - being addressed through the PCB water quality improvement project

Contact Info:
Elaine Snouwaert
Phone: 509-329-3503
Email: Elaine.Snouwaert@ecy.wa.gov

Eastern Region
Department of Ecology
N 4601 Monroe
Spokane, WA 99205 -1295