The Coeur d'Alene Tribe has officially pulled out of a pact with the state to oversee the lake management plan and Governor Brad Little has asked for a third party to conduct a review and analysis of the previous lake management efforts.
For two decades, the state of Idaho and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe have jointly coordinated the management plan of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
But the tribe has become discouraged over what it sees as the state’s inability to take serious action to prevent the lake quality from deteriorating due to heavy metal pollution on the lake bottom and increasing amounts of phosphorus entering the lake from various sources, including excess fertilizer.
Little says the review would “ensure a correct understanding of the dynamics at play in the lake.”
The Coeur d Alene Tribe’s director of lake management, Phil Cernera, says the current plan to deal with the lake pollution is inadequate.
“There’s this plan that I believe the state still thinks is the solution to protect us from metals mobilization that the tribe has clearly stated there’s no way this is going to protect us. That’s why we divested ourselves from the plan,” Cernera said.
Cernera adds he believes it’s time to allow the federal government to be a partner in a real cleanup, something the state has put off because of the perception of being a “Superfund” site.
It's “the Love Canal stigma," he said. "We are not a Love Canal, and from my perspective, the stigma we have now is, we have 75 tons of contamination at the bottom of our lake, and nobody wants to acknowledge that, and try to utilize whatever tool is in our toolbox to address the problem."
Cernera said one clean up option would be to stabilize the heavy metals at the bottom of the lake using innovative technologies, perhaps a physical cap or a slurry of chemicals that would make the metals inert.