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Hydro Maintenance and Upgrades

Our Generation and Production/Substation Support Department, which is responsible for engineering, maintaining, and operating Avista’s hydroelectric and thermal generation facilities, is committed to producing electrical energy and delivering it to our customers as safely and efficiently as possible.  Avista’s engineers and operations staff ensure our hydroelectric developments are well-maintained and working efficiently, and that facility upgrades are completed as necessary to improve operations and generation capacity.

Ongoing maintenance and project upgrades will be posted here as future announcements, so you can keep up with what's happening.


Upper Falls Powerhouse Repainting and Theme Stream bridge upgrade

Visitors to Riverfront Park this fall are enjoying better views of the Spokane River and a freshly painted Upper Falls Powerhouse. Our 91-year-old Neo-Classical style Upper Falls Powerhouse was repainted using the same historical colors of peach and robin egg blue. The structure's seawall, utility vault and railings were also repainted, creating a fresh view of the landscape that residents and visitors see from various locations within Riverfront Park and around downtown.

Other work that was completed includes the replacement of the City's Theme Stream Bridge on the west edge of Riverfront Park. Now heavier vehicle loads can access the Upper Falls Powerhouse for maintenance and the park for events.

As part of that work, abandoned concrete ducts located between the bridge and the river were removed and Spokane's Urban Forestry crew removed non-native vegetation in the area, opening new views of the Spokane River's Upper Falls.

The projects were completed in advance of Avista's 125th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the Expo world's Fair in Riverfront Park. Both anniversaries occur in 2014.

Avista to begin rock relocation project at Monroe Street Dam

Starting Monday, Aug. 4, Avista will begin a project at its Monroe Street Dam, located in Huntington Park, to move rocks that have accumulated from high and extended river flows during the past two springs. The work is expected to take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete.

Huntington Park will be closed on Aug. 4-5 while a crane is assembled and the area prepared for work to begin. The park will reopen on Aug. 6.

During the project, a crane will be staged at the south side of the dam to relocate large amounts of cobble and gravel that have accumulated at the dam’s intake structure and place it back into the river below the dam. Approximately every two years Avista moves the rocks, in accordance with state permits, which can damage the intake structure and interfere with power production.

“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we do this work,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River License Manager for Avista. “Redistributing the materials back into the river will allow them to continue to serve as a potential gravel source for trout spawning habitat in the Spokane River system.”

Nine Mile Dam Rehabilitation Program

Completed in 1908, the Nine Mile Dam generated power to operate the railroad lines outside Spokane and also delivered power to neighboring communities. As at all our facilities, the dam needs ongoing maintenance and upgrades to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

After studying a range of alternatives, Avista has started a Nine Mile Rehabilitation Program to restore full generation at the powerhouse and upgrade key facilities. This effort will include a series of projects stretching over the next seven years. Among these efforts are:

  • Upgrading the powerhouse from 26 MW to 34 MW by replacing Units 1 and 2
  • Rebuilding Units 3 and 4 turbines
  • Restoring one of the cottages for an administrative office
  • Building a new warehouse

We'll also complete a wide range of other electrical, mechanical and facility upgrades. So far, work has started on Cottage No. 6, and we removed Units 1 and 2. While you will be seeing and hearing more about these projects in upcoming years, the overall result will be a modernized, reliable generation facility and improvements to the Nine Mile Dam area for visitors.

Post Falls South Channel

The Post Falls Hydroelectric Development was completed in 1906 and consists of the North Channel, Middle Channel and South Channel Dams. In recent years, both the North Channel and Middle Channel Dams have had their facilities updated to keep them structurally stable, efficient and reliable. In 2014, Avista will continue this effort at the South Channel Dam by removing the original spillway gates and hoists and installing new spillway gates, hoists, appurtenant structures and general concrete repairs. A cofferdam will be constructed to facilitate the construction work. With typical in-river construction projects on the Spokane River, work is scheduled to begin as river flows allow, usually in the June-July timeframe, and lasting through Spring 2015.

Visitors to Q'emlin Park and Falls Park may see cranes, barges, trucks and contractors. Some areas of the parks, including pedestrian trails, will be temporarily fenced off and detours will be designated for park visitors. In an emergency, the boat launch at Q'emilin Park may be temporarily closed. For safety, we ask that the public obey posted signs, stay out of the river below the boater's safety cables and keep clear of designated work areas.