The water level rose as the rain continued to fall, prompting the Spokane Valley City Council to join the list of local jurisdictions to enact closures on the Spokane River on Tuesday.
The water, already flowing fast from seasonal runoff, reached the point where it covered area roadways and portions of the Centennial Trail earlier this week. On Tuesday night, the council added the closure resolution to its agenda and unanimously agreed that the river is off limits between Havana and Hodges roads.
The resolution prohibits anyone from entering the river with or without a flotation device or in any watercraft due to life, health and safety risks. The closure supplements similar resolutions passed by the city of Spokane and Spokane County.
The closure will remain in place until the river is deemed once again safe to enter, which could be several weeks.
Earlier that same day, the pedestrian bridges – slick with spraying water -- were closed inside Spokane’s Riverfront Park. West of Spokane Valley, Upriver Drive was closed from Mission Avenue to Greene Street as river water covered the road and the parallel trail. Sandbags were placed to protect nearby residences.
All spill gates at Post Falls Dam have been opened, Avista officials reported.
“It is understandable people are drawn to the Spokane River to see for themselves the historic amount of water flowing down it, but the fast moving and very cold water is a very serious safety concern,” stated Deputy Mark Gregory, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, earlier in the day.
Gregory added that those who do – for whatever reason -- go near the river should maintain a safe distance and wear a personal flotation device as a precaution.
“Accidents happen, and the state of the river right now is causing very unpredictable conditions,” Gregory added. “Anyone who enters the water will be in a fight for their life.”