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Coeur d'Alene committee commits $31 million to lake cleanup projects

Courtesy of Idaho State Parks
State and federal money will funding more than 20 water quality projects to be finished by the end of 2026.

The money comes from federal pandemic relief funds and aims to reduce phosphorus pollution in the CDA Basin.

The state of Idaho is putting $31 million into projects designed to pull phosphorus out of the Coeur d’Alene River Basin. The goal is to improve the quality of the water in Lake Coeur d’Alene and the rivers and streams that feed it. The money comes from the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Dan McCracken, the regional administrator for the Department of Environmental Quality, says a local committee last week picked 19 projects to be considered for adoption by the director of Idaho DEQ. The largest would upgrade the wastewater treatment plant that serves all of the communities in the Silver Valley.

“It’ll be similar to what we’ve done in recent years to some of the facilities that discharge to the Spokane River on both sides of the state line, in terms of upgrading those treatment plants to reduce phosphorus loading,” McCracken said. “They’re going to be pursuing tertiary treatment, which is a whole other level of treatment that will remove about 7,000 pounds per year of phosphorus that goes to the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River and then ultimately down to the lake.”

“It will have the added benefit of reducing some metals that are present in their system due to legacy mining waste that impacts that system,” McCracken said.

The projects chosen last week are an addition to a handful of other projects that were chosen two years ago, paid for by $2 million in state funds. Most of those are underway.

McCracken says construction on some of the newly-chosen projects may begin as early as this summer. He says the ARPA grants require the work to be finished by the end of 2026.

It’s a significant investment for one of Governor Brad Little’s environmental priorities. McCracken expects the region to make significant progress on its phosphorus pollution problem.

“We’re going to learn a lot as these projects get implemented,” McCracken said. “We will hopefully see some water quality improvements with our monitoring programs and some of the National Academy of Sciences recommendationsas we implement some of those, we’ll be learning things. We’ll be looking probably at some time in 2026 or 2027 having a good idea what are the most important next steps after that.”

He says his office will continue to seek funding for other projects that won’t be funded this round, but which have been proposed and vetted.

Projects recommended in March 2023:

Page Wastewater Treatment Plant - Smelterville (South Fork Coeur d'Alene River Sewer District): $17 million
Santa-Fernwood Wastewater Re-use in Benewah County (Santa-Fernwood Water and Sewer Districts): $7.016 million
St. Joe Watershed Nutrient Assessment (CDA Tribe, recommended by National Academy of Sciences): $1.2 million
Kellogg Stormwater Management (City of Kellogg): $1 million
Lake-focused Human Health Risk Assessment (ID DEQ): $855K
Coeur d'Alene Lake Science Coordination Team (ID DEQ): $150K
Riverside Track Riverside Stabilization for the North Fork CDA River (Kootenai-Shoshone Sewer and Water District) $44K
Schlagel Draw Depositional Area (Kootenai-Shoshone SWD): $24K
Northside Stormwater Drainage Improvements (East Side Highway District): $4,650

Projects recommended in December 2022:

Fernan Lake Wetland and Stream Restoration (Fernan Lake Recreation and Conservation Association): $787K
Northside Stormwater Drainage Improvements-Sunnyside Road (Eastside Highway District): $644K
Kellogg Stormwater Management-Maintenance Equipment Program (City of Kellogg): $550K
Stormwater Goes to School (Kellogg Joint School District): $415K
Kellogg Stormwater Equipment-East Kellogg (City of Kellogg): $330K
Reconstruction and Protection of South Shoreline of Powderhorn Bay (Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD): $277K
Kellogg Stormwater Management-Government Gulch (City of Kellogg): $220K
East Sherman Stormwater Outfall Volume Reductions (City of Coeur d'Alene): $190K
Wolf Lodge Creek Reach 5 (Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD): $158K
Mica Creek Flood Plain Improvement Project (Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD): $57K

Projects recommended in March 2022 (paid for by state money):

Independence Point Stormwater Outfall (City of CDA): $380K
City of Plummer and Stimson Lumber Company-Municipal Wastewater Reuse (City of Plummer): $300K
Coeur d'Alene River Stabilization (Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD): $279K
City of Kellogg-North Kellogg Outfall (City of Kellogg): $250K
Coeur d'Alene Stormwater Outfall Reduction-Sanders Beach (City of CDA): $200K
Bunker Creek Stormwater Outfall Project (City of Kellogg): $200K
Coeur d'Alene Stormwater-Mullan Avenue (City of CDA): $115K
City of Kellogg-Hill Street Outfall (City of Kellogg): $65K
St. Joe Phosphate Reduction (Benewah SWCD): $55K
Mica Creek Watershed Agricultural Sediment Reduction and Improvement Project, Phase 2 (Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD): $49K
Northside Stormwater at Marmot Trail (East Side Highway District): $14K

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.