Lake Coeur d’Alene Needs Our Help

“The lake has had her heart pierced. She is wounded…,” said Steve Wilson, former CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce.

Wilson and about 200 Idahoans agreed in November that Lake Coeur d’Alene needs help. The diverse group of scientists, business owners, tribal leaders, elected officials and community members joined together in November to share a message loud and clear — mounting evidence shows that pollution into Lake Coeur d’Alene is getting worse.

If upstream contaminants were to interact with the 75 million tons of toxic mine waste already on the lake bottom, a potential disaster could erupt, threatening the lake and health of local communities, fish and wildlife.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency manages the cleanup of the mine waste upstream and downstream of Lake Coeur d’Alene. But for nearly two decades, the EPA has chosen not to clean up Lake Coeur d’Alene, and has instead supported a joint State of Idaho and Coeur d’Alene Tribe-sponsored Lake Management Plan.

If you’d like more background, check out this High Country News article for a great primer on this issue.

New Developments

Last September, Coeur d’Alene Tribal leaders withdrew their support of the Lake Management Plan and requested the EPA share its funding and resources to better care for and permanently clean up the lake. In turn, Idaho Gov. Brad Little directed the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to secure a third-party to review and analyze the health of Lake Coeur d’Alene and to recommend actions to address any identified concerns.

Meanwhile, the EPA is preparing to review the cleanup progress it has made around Lake Coeur d’Alene over the past five years and to further evaluate the effectiveness of the Lake Management Plan to determine whether Lake Coeur d’Alene requires additional funding and support.

Many spoke up for Lake Coeur d’Alene!

The Idaho Conservation League joined hundreds of Idahoans in our community, and across the state who are concerned about the future of Lake CDA. We urged the EPA to develop a new cleanup plan and direct new EPA funds to clean up Lake Coeur d’Alene. For those who commented, you helped make a difference for the health and protection of Lake Coeur d’Alene by submitting comments to the EPA letting them know you care and encouraging them to take action to protect this beloved lake.

Comments were submitted to the EPA before April 30, 2020.