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County will fund lake water analysis

Staff Writer | September 29, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai County commissioners voted Wednesday to commit $50,000 to a project analyzing lake water samples for trace and toxic metals.

Bill Brooks and Chris Fillios voted to provide the funds, which will come from the fiscal year 2022 community support budget. Leslie Duncan was not present for the meeting.

The University of Idaho is working with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to study the impacts of wakes on water quality in the nearshore zone in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Though IDEQ will fund the two-year study, there was no available funding to perform additional analysis on water samples for trace and toxic metals associated with past mining waste from the Bunker Hill and Silver Valley mining districts.

The Kootenai County Natural Resources Advisory Board asked commissioners last month to help fund the project. All three commissioners expressed support.

Jamie Sturgess, chairman of the advisory board, said the money would enable the University of Idaho to fully utilize the fieldwork that is already underway.

The data collected will be invaluable to Coeur d’Alene lakeshore homeowners, recreational users and downstream interests, Sturgess said.

The county will also accept contributing funds from lakeshore homeowners and other groups to supplement county funds.

Advisory board member Richard Meyer told commissioners Wednesday that six donors have contributed about $1,300 toward the study so far, with additional funds pledged.

A group of about 70 Powderhorn Bay Road users submitted a letter to commissioners, requesting the county’s support for the study.

“We feel it is important to know if heavy wave action causes heavy metals to become suspended and pose potential health issues to swimmers, especially young children,” the letter said.