Water 101 -- Thank you for presenting a responsible and well-balanced article about the aquifer and Spokane River "Digging Deeper" (2/10/05). I'd like to offer several comments to clarify the information presented in your article.
First, the aquifer is not an underground river! Nor swampy! Secondly, the aquifer is the water-bearing rock formation, not the water. Our aquifer is sand, gravel, cobblestones, and boulders. The groundwater flows through the pores between these billions of pieces and particles of rock. The depth sounder used by the USGS scientists squeals as it first hits the water table, or groundwater surface.
The prominent diagram of drawdown is misleading. Most aquifers will experience drawdown when pumped, but ours does not. Groundwater flows so quickly through the spaces between the gravels in our aquifer, that not even the largest pumps create a significant cone of depression. That's the whole point -- our aquifer is unique! And the porous gravel formation and the rapidly moving groundwater also make it highly vulnerable to contamination.
Finally, we are happy you used graphics and information from the newly revised Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Atlas, but we wish you had given credit for your source. This newly revised Atlas edition is available and free of charge to interested schools, librarians and citizens.
Please continue to present articles about the aquifer and Spokane River. Our community is facing important decisions in the next few years regarding our aquifer and the Spokane River, including the BNSF depot and other pollution sources, TMDL water quality standards for the Spokane River, the UAA petition, results of the bi-state Aquifer Study, FERC re-licensing, and the urgent need for additional wastewater management capability. Our community needs clear, well-balanced and ongoing discussion of these issues. Please keep up the good work. Half a million people are counting on you.
Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Atlas Committee
Sex and Safety -- According to abstinence educators in the article "Abstaining From Facts" (2/10/05), teaching our young people about condoms encourages recreational sex. I think we can use that same logic and not teach them about seat belts either. The next thing you know, they'll be driving cars before they get their license under the mistaken belief that they're less likely to die as long as they're wearing a seat belt. Unlicensed young people will be the scourge of the roadways! We must act quickly to prevent this and tell them seat belts will fail most of the time.
Thanks for allowing me to do my part to prevent a national travesty.
Publication date: 2/24/04