Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality will soon be awarding $2 million to projects that will reduce phosphorous on Coeur d'Alene Lake.
The funding from the state is part of Gov. Brad Little's "Building Idaho's Future" plan.
The projects are intended to prevent the lake from reaching a dangerous tipping point where heavy metal contamination that has mostly remained in sediments could become suspended in the water column due to a shift in the water chemistry.
Like much of North Idaho, the lake faces issues with contamination deposited during decades of silver and lead mining in the region.
To be eligible, projects must include on-the-ground reductions in phosphorous, be located in Idaho within the watersheds that drain into Coeur d'Alene Lake, and have community support. Projects on federal land are ineligible.
Other than that, there are no official boundaries on the types of projects that could be proposed, says environmental scientist Craig Cooper, who works with DEQ. But some examples of nutrient sources to tackle might include wastewater treatment facilities or developed properties that have increased runoff into the basin, he says. Other project ideas could include wetland restoration, planting riparian buffers along streams, and other nutrient reduction efforts.
"We don’t really have a very good way to point to any particular place and say, 'Hey, here’s the silver bullet,'" Cooper says. "It’s more how can we be better stewards of the water that moves through the land and how can we do a better job of cleaning it?"
Pre-applications for the funding are due by Sept. 21, as the money is earmarked to be spent on projects immediately as part of fiscal year 2022.
More information on how to apply can be found on the webpage for the recently formed Coeur d'Alene Lake Advisory Committee.