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Panel picks phosphorus removal projects for CDA Basin

Courtesy of Bonneville Power Administration

Work could get underway early next year on eleven projects intended to keep toxic algae blooms from growing in Lake Coeur d’Alene and the waterways that feed into it. The Coeur d’Alene Basin Advisory Group voted Friday to authorize the projects. Lake Coeur d’Alene has, so far, avoided major outbreaks of toxic algae and Governor Brad Little wants to keep it that way. In August, he authorized the state to spend up to $2 million to remove phosphorus, the main ingredient that leads to algae growth.

Credit Courtesy of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
The spreadsheet listing projects submitted for phosphorus removal in the Coeur d'Alene Basin.

This week an advisory committee selected eleven projects out of 40 that were submitted.
“All of the projects underwent a technical evaluation to estimate how much phosphorus would be reduced from the lake if that project were to be implemented. Then we were also looking at the cost effectiveness, the cost per pound reduced," said Dan McCracken, the regional administrator for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The winning projects will take place in all parts of the basin, from tributaries downstream to the lake itself.

“There’s a stormwater outfall at Sanders Beach [Lake Coeur d'Alene], improving that so that it’s not discharging stormwater all the time and, if there is a discharge, we get that treated," McCracken said. "The city of Kellogg, up in the Silver Valley, also has some stormwater improvement projects that ranked very high. Some riverbank stabilization work on the Coeur d’Alene River. The city of Plummer and Stimson Lumber are partnered on a wastewater re-use project that made it into the top 11.”

McCracken says his agency will now start writing contracts and distributing money to fund the projects. Work on some of them is scheduled to begin next spring with a goal of finishing them by the end of 2023.