Extremely low water levels in the Spokane River are harming outdoor recreation and the river, and in early August, local citizens launched a regional “H2KNOW: Our Spokane River is Low!” campaign to increase public awareness of the critical relationship between human water usage, the Spokane region’s aquifer and water flowing into the Spokane River. “While we should conserve water anyway, we have a very special reason to use water wisely,” says river advocate and former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley. “When we pump our aquifer, we rob our river.”

Several H2KNOW billboards appeared around Spokane August 1. One version reads, “Know the Flow – River Running Low,” with a tied-off garden hose and dry rock in the river. Another features a snake-like coiled garden hose and a great blue heron with the question, “Is Your Hose Draining Her Habitat?”

John Osborn, a Spokane physician and a coordinator for H2KNOW, asked Spokane-area residents to “think about the plight of the Spokane River every time you turn on a water faucet or pick up a hose. Do you really need to use that water? Because the Spokane River really needs that water.” As the region’s draught continues this summer and fall, the group encourages Spokane citizens to visit www.H2KNOW.info for more information and tips on how to conserve water.

Roskelley also underscores the economic and recreational loss that is tied to the Spokane River’s low flow. “The Spokane River is what our quality of life is all about,” he says. “This is not just about today or tomorrow, but about this community’s future.”