Beginning in 2021, Idaho Gov. Brad Little began allocating funds for projects that reduce phosphorus loading to Coeur d’Alene Lake under the Leading Idaho Initiative. Since then, a total of $33 million has been allocated for this purpose. Gov. Little appointed the Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee to oversee the allocation of these funds and tasked them with selecting projects from the pool of applications that were expected to effectively improve Coeur d’Alene Lake’s water quality.

This was on the heels of water quality trend reports that showed phosphorus levels in the lake creeping up — not something lake managers with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe wanted to see. The CLAC convened in 2021 and last met in March of this year to allocate the final portions of the $33 million. CLAC members include: Chris Fillios, chair; Jack Riggs, vice chair; Gene (Hemene) James, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council; Jim Hammond, City of Coeur d’Alene Mayor; Bruce Cyr, Coeur d’Alene lakeshore property owner; Craig Brosenne, Hagadone Marine Group; Shelley Austin, Kootenai Environmental Alliance; David Callahan, Kootenai County Community development director; and Jordan Hall, business owner, City of Harrison. “The Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee members put a lot of thoughtful time and energy into reviewing and evaluating all of the project applications and in selecting those they felt would bring the most benefit to Coeur d’Alene Lake,” said Gov. Little. “We appreciate their efforts in making sound decisions on behalf of the Coeur d’Alene Basin and all who enjoy it.”

One of these projects, which targets stormwater runoff, officially broke ground Monday, May 22, on the East Side of Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene.

This project will capture urban runoff from 75 acres in the Sanders Beach area and route it through a series of treatment basins to ultimately filter into the ground. Previously, the water that runs through the neighborhoods, picking up dirt, debris, fertilizer that missed its target, leaking fluids from cars, pet waste and anything else that hits the ground, would run into stormwater pipes and discharge directly into Coeur d’Alene Lake near Sanders Beach and the 11th Street Marina east of Tubbs Hill. This project is part of the City of Coeur d’Alene’s Stormwater Outfall Volume Reduction Program, which was created specifically to reduce the amount of stormwater running directly into surface waters, such as Coeur d’Alene Lake, Fernan Creek and the Spokane River.

Other projects receiving funding through the Leading Idaho Initiative for Coeur d’Alene Lake include several more stormwater treatment projects in the City of Coeur d’Alene, the City of Kellogg and along Fernan and Lakeshore roads; streambank stabilization projects that reduce levels of eroding soil reaching the lake; road improvement projects reducing soil erosion from road surfaces and drainage ditches; floodplain access improvement projects that alleviate erosive forces in stream channels during high spring flows; wastewater treatment upgrades reducing dissolved phosphorus loads, and a handful of studies recommended by the National Academy of Science in the Consensus Report, “The Future of Water Quality in Coeur d’Alene Lake,” published September 2022. All these efforts target the health of Coeur d’Alene Lake by reducing phosphorus loads reaching the lake to keep the lake’s dissolved oxygen levels high and keep the heavy metals found in lakebed sediments in the lakebed and not releasing into the overlying waters.

For more information on the Leading Idaho Initiative for Coeur d’Alene Lake and projects funded through this initiative, visit Coeur-dalene-lake/.


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