COEUR D’ALENE—The Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee on Thursday recommended $31 million for 19 projects that will help protect water quality in Coeur d’Alene Lake.
This historic investment was made possible by Governor Brad Little’s Leading Idaho initiative, which directed millions of state and federal dollars to projects that would reduce phosphorus loading throughout the lake and its tributaries.
“Coeur d’Alene Lake is the heart of North Idaho, driving the region’s tourism, economy, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Our continued investment into water quality improvement projects aims to protect this ‘gem’ for current and future generations to enjoy,” Governor Little said. “I applaud the good work of the committee, DEQ, National Academy of Sciences, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and Kootenai County. Together, we will continue making positive advancements in the health of Coeur d’Alene Lake.”
“These projects are critically important to the Coeur d’Alene community, and the scale of this work is what is necessary to reduce phosphate loading in the lake. Not only are we addressing the issues at hand, but we are also preparing in a better way for issues that will emerge, and the effects will be seen for years,” said Shelley Austin, committee member and executive director of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance.
“Our community uses and appreciates our lake and rivers, and these projects are substantial in improving our water quality. We should all be proud of this community commitment. The State provided over $30 million and the governor appointed our committee of community members to recommend projects that will improve lake quality. We believe that these efforts will yield measurable and meaningful improvements in lake quality over the next three years and for years to come,” said Bruce Cyr, committee member and Coeur d’Alene Lake property owner.
The committee considered three categories of funding to prioritize projects: (1) Previous Applications; (2) Wastewater Treatment Upgrades; and (3) 2022 National Academies of Sciences (NAS) recommendations. The final list will be presented to the Basin Advisory Group and DEQ Director for approval in early April.
In December 2022, the committee recommended funding for ten phosphorus-reduction projects, totaling approximately $3.5 million. Yesterday’s action would provide an additional $1.5 million for nine projects that focus on stormwater management, habitat-friendly riverbank stabilization, sediment reduction, and roadway drainage enhancements.
Wastewater Treatment Upgrades
The committee also evaluated a list of wastewater project proposals, focusing on each project’s potential to reduce phosphorus discharge to the lake within a set timeframe established by federal law. The committee recommended $24 million in funding for projects that address wastewater treatment upgrades at the Page Wastewater Treatment plant and the Santa-Fernwood Wastewater facilities.
National Academies of Sciences Recommendations
The third category included projects that furthered the recommendations outlined in the 2022 National Academies of Sciences report. The committee recommended $2 million for projects that would fund a Science Coordination Team to guide future lake management efforts and work through the list of NAS recommendations, establish a nutrient assessment of the St. Joe River watershed and southern end of Coeur d’Alene Lake to identify sources of nutrient delivery to the lake, and create a lake-focused human health risk assessment to determine potential contaminant exposure at recreational areas at and around Coeur d’Alene Lake.