News Releases

Murray Secures $500,000 for Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Study in Senate Spending Bill

Sep 23 2003

Full Senate passes FY 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill

(Washington, D.C.) Senator Patty Murray has secured $500,000 to conduct a study on the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. The funding was included in the FY2004 Senate Interior Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate earlier this evening. The funding is provided through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“Families in Eastern Washington need to know how much water is available in the aquifer, and this federal funding will help us find out,” Sen. Murray said. “Securing the funds for this study was a very high priority for me again this year.”

Senator Murray had secured $500,000 in the Senate version of the Interior spending bill last year, while the House appropriated nothing. Unfortunately, during a House-Senate conference, the House position prevailed and the funding was stripped for this project.

The need for the study stemmed from proposals to build three power plants in Idaho which would draw down 20 million gallons of water per day from the Aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for about 400,000 people in the region. Rather than approve the permits for the power plants, local governments, business leaders and environmental organizations agreed that more information about the Aquifer is needed.

“This process shows what our region can accomplish when we have a common vision and cooperation from states, the federal government and the community,” Murray said. “I want to thank Sen. Craig for working closely with me on this important priority for our two states.”

Murray worked with Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to secure this funding. The USGS has entered into an agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology and the Idaho Departments of Water Resources and Environmental Quality to develop a work plan for the Aquifer Study. Both states have also committed resources to support the Study. The language in the Senate Interior bill requires the $500,000 federal contribution to be matched “in part” by Washington and Idaho.