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Group seeks Lake Cd'A protections

| July 29, 2022 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE - An independent group of citizens in Coeur d’Alene is launching a grassroots initiative aimed at protecting Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The "Lake Health Acknowledgement" asks community leaders "for public acknowledgement of Lake Coeur d’Alene’s deteriorating water quality" and it calls on them to "do everything within their means to protect public health."

Anyone impacted by the Coeur d’Alene basin, which includes Washington residents and visitors tourists, can sign the petition.

"Ultimately, our interactions with the lake define its future health,” said Izabella Silva, a citizen involved in the effort. “Leaders need the political will to stand by the experts, support meaningful solutions, and enforce rules that will protect our lake, and subsequently public health for future generations."

According to the press release, the most recent monitoring data shows nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus entering the lake at an accelerated pace due to several factors, including poor land-use practices, fertilizer use and insufficient septic systems.

A century of mining activity in the Silver Valley left millions of tons of heavy metals on the lake's bottom, the release said.

Gov. Brad Little announced earlier this year that his “Leading Idaho” plan directed $80 million to improve water quality throughout Idaho, including Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will prioritize nutrient-reduction projects identified by the Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee in overseeing the funds.

Another $2 million was allocated in 2021 for water quality projects that will benefit the lake.

The citizens group said those efforts are a start. It said more frequent testing of the water and sand near public beaches for heavy metals could bring transparency to the process.

After leaders publicly acknowledge the problem, citizens can embrace their responsibility to monitor community leader action or inaction on this issue, the release said.

“This is not an effort that 'calls out' or places blame but an effort to let community leaders know there is citizen support for taking the first step toward resolution,” said Brianna Gilge, a citizen involved in the effort.

According to the release, public acknowledgment of the lake’s health status has been lacking since the first mining waste flowed into the lake from the Coeur d’Alene Mining District in the 1880s.

"Our lake is unlike other lakes,” said Korrine Rothrock, of Coeur d’Alene. “For this lake, water management is also a metals management issue. To continue minimizing this reality in the face of declining water quality puts public health at risk."

The group is inviting the public to learn more about its efforts at a meeting, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 2, at Coeur d’Alene City Park in the picnic shelter.

Info: lakehealthcda.wordpress.com

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