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EPA Uses Coeur d'Alene River Flooding to Test for Heavy Metals

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Idaho Fish and Game via Flickr
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Coeur d'Alene River

The flooding on the Coeur d’Alene river this week is actually helpful for the Environmental Protection Agency, as they are doing sampling of heavy metals in the waterway, and how they move downstream.

Ed Moreen is an EPA project engineer:  “just because there is a lot of water which means there will be a lot of sediments picked up and moved somewhere, and we want to understand where it is getting picked up from as well as where it might be getting disbursed.”

Lead, cadmium, arsenic and zinc are all present in the river bed, after a century of mining upstream in the Silver Valley.

Moreen says it’s been determined that about seventy five percent of the heavy metals on the bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene originated from the river bed:

“So this sampling will help us hopefully determine where in the river bed might be the greatest contributors, and we can use that to determine future actions or make decisions about how we might address those issues.”

EPA contractors will have boats on the water over the weekend, and the results of the sampling  aren’t expected for 4 to 6 months.

Moreen says if they determine some hot spots, they will develop some pilot projects to see if they can control or even eliminate them, if possible.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.