4/18/2014

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Palouse Basin Water Summit keynote speaker discusses water quality

Palouse Basin Water Summit keynote speaker discusses water quality
PULLMAN, WA - The ninth annual Palouse Basin Water Summit attracted hundreds of people to the Schweitzer Engineering Event Center Tuesday night.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin is here in the studio to give us a recap of what they discussed.

That's right, the 2013 Palouse Basin Water Summit drew a large crowd of people who wanted to learn a thing or two about their water. I had the chance to talk with the keynote speaker about why people on the Palouse are fortunate when it comes to their water supply.

"The infrastructure is getting older and older and there are leaks that are occurring more and more frequently," said Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee Executive Manager Steve Robischon.

The 2013 Palouse Basin Water Summit gave elected officials, citizens, and students a chance to learn about some of the challenges that local municipalities face when it comes to supplying water.

"Typically, Pullman has about nine breaks a year," said Pullman Public Works Director Kevin Gardes.

Gardes explained that the city is constantly working on capital improvement projects to prevent problems... Last summer's Stadium Way construction project is one example.

"We spent probably eight or nine hundred thousand dollars on improving water, sanitary and storm drain lines," said Gardes.

Over in Moscow, the city is preparing to install a new well that will serve as a backup in case they continue to have issues with Well Number Nine.

"Well Number Ten will be similar in size and scope, and roughly a 2,500 gallon per minute well," said Moscow Public Works Director Les MacDonald.

"Drinking water is a constant battle," said Duke University Professor of Law Jim Salzman.

Duke University Law Professor Jim Salzman was the summit's keynote speaker.

"You're blessed in the Palouse with very good drinking water, but there are always threats," said Salzman. "There are pesticides, there are fertilizers, there are sometimes spills."

Salzman explained that water quality on the Palouse is higher than much of the nation, but he said it's important for citizens to remember that their water comes from a declining aquifer.

"Where we are today, it's something we take for granted," said Salzman. "But it's something, I think, it's worth taking a step back and realizing just how amazing the infrastructure and laws and everyone that puts together a safe glass of drinking water really is."

Pullman, Moscow and both universities on the Palouse rely on the Grand Ronde Aquifer for their water, and according to the Palouse Water Conservation Network its levels are dropping nearly a foot every year.
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