$2 million boost to Lake CDA

By Madison Hardy, Coeur d’Alene Press

The Coeur d’Alene Basin could see 11 nutrient-reducing measures come to fruition in 2022 following state approval on Friday. 

Members of the Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Commission ended their three-month mission on Wednesday afternoon to recommend a set of projects designed to improve the health of the lake city’s beloved water body. 

A subset of Gov. Brad Little’s Building Idaho’s Future initiative, the CLAC solicited and reviewed 40 eligible proposals vying for $2 million in state funding. 

“One thing I was encouraged about is in the short window we gave for applications, we still came up with over 40 projects,” CLAC member Hemene James said. “Now imagine if we were to meet again, imagine the influx of applications we would receive … I think that can go a long way to show (Little) that our region is interested.” 

Projects prioritized by the CLAC and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality were those that:

• Reduce wastewater pollution from point sources like wastewater treatment plants

• Manage stormwater that drains into the lake and its tributaries

• Address nonpoint source pollution such as sediment loading through bank stabilization, wetland enhancements and other efforts

• Support research projects such as lake treatment options 

IDEQ experts evaluated proposals and scored them based on cost, the total amount of phosphorus reduced, project timeline and relative community support. 

Of the 40 submissions, 22 were top contenders in the minds of CLAC and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality experts. On Wednesday, CLAC members prioritized 11 projects for implementation. 

Those 11 included: 

• Approximately $745,000 in stormwater projects submitted by Coeur d’Alene to reduce phosphorus loading at Sanders Beach, Independence Point and Mullan Avenue.

• $515,000 in projects that would implement “sustainable” improvements to reduce nutrient and sediment loading by the city of Kellogg stormwater system. Reforms would impact discharge into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and Bunker Creek and support zinc reduction efforts by the Central Treatment Plant.

• Approximately $25,600 in stormwater drainage improvements to Marmot Trail Road by the East Side Highway District. Currently, erosion from the roadway deposits into ditches that flow directly into Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

• $278,900 toward streambank protection efforts to reduce the erosion of soil that contains “highly contaminated soils which are present from historical mining in the Silver Valley.” The project would involve three landowners and the Kootenai-Shoshone Soil and Water Conservation District. 

• $100,000 to assist five landowners complete 800 feet of riverbank stabilization along the St. Joe River. 

• $77,040 to assist Phase 2 of the Mica Creek Watershed Agricultural Sediment Reduction and Improvement Project. 

Projects prioritized by the CLAC will go before the Panhandle Basin Advisory Group on Friday morning. The public can watch the BAG meeting through Zoom. 

IDEQ Director Jess Byrne will make the final project award decision. 

“Because of the great work of everyone involved, this effort has been more successful than I could have ever imagined,” Byrne told the CLAC on Wednesday. “I’m very confident that this is just the beginning of meaningful nutrient reduction projects within the Coeur d’Alene Lake Watershed.” 

Proposals selected by the CLAC are intended to support an ongoing study by the National Academies of Sciences into historical and current water quality data in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

CLAC members are:

• Kootenai County Commissioner Chris Fillios

• Former Lt. Gov. and state Rep. Jack Riggs

• Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer

• Coeur d’Alene Rep. Paul Amador

• Kootenai Environmental Alliance Executive Director Shelley Austin 

• Hagadone Marine Group President Craig Brosenne

• Harrison City Councilman Jordan Hall 

• Lakeshore property owner Bruce Cyr 

Info: www.deq.idaho.gov/coeur-dalene-lake-advisory-committee/, www.deq.idaho.gov/events/panhandle-basin-advisory-group-meeting-5/