The state of Idaho is soliciting proposals for projects that would lower the phosphorus level in Coeur d’Alene Lake.
Governor Brad Little has set aside $2 million from his Building Idaho’s Future fund.
“The governor fully recognizes that, with the trends going in the direction that we don’t want them to go so that we need to start acting today can prevent those scenarios that we don’t want to see," said Jamie Brunner, the Coeur d’Alene Lake management supervisor for the state Department of Environmental Quality.
This summer, several north Idaho lakes have algae blooms caused by phosphorus. Craig Cooper, a state limnologist, or fresh water manager, says Coeur d’Alene Lake doesn’t have much of a problem, yet.
“There’s some parts of the lake down in the southern waters, south of Harrison, that do get green and gross. We don’t sample down there. That’s the tribe’s area. Up in the northern lake we really don’t see that, in the state’s areas. Maybe some back in the back of Kidd Island Bay," he said.
But, Cooper says, there are signs that rapid development around the lake, in wastewater and run off from fertilized areas, may be changing the chemistry of the water. The National Academy of Sciences is studying that.
The nightmare scenario is that high phosphorus levels reactivate the tons of heavy metals that are sitting, dormant, on the lake bed. That’s where the state wants that toxic stuff.
That’s why the governor is calling for action now. Jamie Brunner says Little is asking private companies to submit proposals that are ready to go.
“Ideally we want to see projects at least beginning to be put on the ground before the National Academy of Sciences comes out with their report on Coeur d’Alene Lake, which is due by the middle of next year. So, if we can get something going on the ground before then, that’s what we’d like to see," she said.
The state is asking companies to submit pre-applications by September 21. You can find more information here.