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Water Talks 

by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hen the authors of a three-year study of the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer released their findings in May, elected leaders from both sides of the border met to praise the findings -- the aquifer has enough water to meet current needs -- and pledge to work together to protect the region's sole source of drinking water.

That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part.

On Thursday, after a four-month break for summer, elected officials from Spokane and Kootenai counties, including Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin, will resume the conversation about the outstanding issues the study raised. The meeting will run from 2:30-5:30 pm at Post Falls' Greyhound Park.

Susan Ashe, the legislative director for Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession, says Guy Gregory, the Department of Ecology's lead on the project, will review the study results "for those who aren't up-to-speed on the issue." Then the agenda will turn to water conservation, which could be a tricky conversation between people who think the report debunked concerns that the region doesn't have enough water and those who think the region isn't far away from moving into a deficit situation. The group will hear a report about two focus groups that were convened recently to gauge people's attitudes about water conservation.

Ashe says Mayor Hession hopes the September meeting will be a springboard for future discussions. This time, "we're targeting local and state officials from both sides of the border," she says. But she knows a broad range of non-elected stakeholders will eventually want to have their say.
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