News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced that the Senate Fiscal Year 2003 Interior Appropriations bill includes $500,000 to conduct a study of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

There was no funding requested in the President's budget and the House bill currently contains no funding.

"This study will provide us with the information we need to protect our water quality and encourage economic growth," Senator Murray said. "It's in our region's best interests to move this study forward as soon as possible."

Energy companies in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene region want to build three power plants in Idaho over the water source for the Spokane Rathdrum Aquifer.

The plants would require 20 million gallons of water a day from the Aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for the region. Business leaders in the region requested a study to determine how these power plants would affect the Aquifer.

Senator Murray has been a strong advocate of the Aquifer study. On June 20th, she participated in a conference call with regional business leaders, conservation groups and city officials to reiterate her support for the study.

"I am delighted that the people of Washington state and Idaho have come together on this issue," Murray continued. "This cooperation is a shining example of what our region can accomplish when we work together."

Murray worked closely with Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to secure this funding. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will pass the $500,000 on to the Washington Department of Ecology and the Idaho Department Environmental Quality. The state agencies will allocate the funds with input from a government, business and environmental groups.