Spokane river rising as pollution gathers on the outer banks

Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White Jr. says the river is running high and creeping up the banks, which are home to wildlife and people.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane River is an impressive sight. Right now, 105,000 gallons of water is running by every second.

“It is quite dangerous, if you get up on the sides of the river, you can be swept into the trees, and the river is very, very cold right now,” Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White Jr. said.

White says the river is also running high right now, creeping up the banks, which are home to wildlife and people.

“We’ve watched kind of a social tragedy unfolding but it’s also a pretty serious impact on the river,” White said.

More and more homeless camps are dotting the banks between the TJ Meenach bridge and Felts Field.

“Poverty has an impact, we see these camps with no garbage service along the edge of the river and when we have these flows come up like this into where people have been living, garbage and other household items get washed right in the river and then they are garbage, they are pollution,” White said.

White has found toxic chemicals, paint cans and excessive amounts of plastic.

“Which breaks down into micro plastic and then it gets ingested by all the wildlife,” White said.

The cleanup never stops, as White says that 26,000 pounds of litter were picked up last year with over 1,000 volunteers.

“We are certainly watching the rise of people in poverty and people living along the banks of the river in our city, just as we’re watching across the west coast,” White said.

The camps pose a problem with no easy solution. When conditions are safe, White likes to put service providers in boats.

“We’ll go ashore, folks from SNAP will get out, offer services, inquire as to whether services are needed, get back on the boat and then we get on to the next camp,” White said.

The Spokane River is an urban river. White says you can’t put the blame squarely on homeless camps.

“Everything finds its way to the river so we will find all kinds of litter that’s not all attributed to homelessness,” White said.

White is always looking for volunteers to come out for a few hours on the weekends to clean up the banks. For information on how you can volunteer, click here.

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Article Source: Krem2