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Tribe, state launch lake management plan

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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) – A century’s worth of mining pollution in Lake Coeur d’Alene would be mitigated under a plan the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state of Idaho have begun implementing.

Rebecca Stevens, lake management restoration coordinator with the tribe, said water quality monitoring around the Coeur d’Alene lake basin has started.

The goal of the Coeur d’Alene Lake Management Plan is to limit too many nutrients from entering the water, something that could lead to the release of mining-related poisons now embedded in tons of muck on the lake floor by depleting an oxygen cap in the lake that keeps heavy metals contained on the lake bed.

“We’re not just going around to pipes and saying, ‘That might be troublesome later on,’ we’re looking at the whole basin, anything that flows into the lake,” Stevens said Aug. 27 at a presentation for the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported. “The waste water treatment facility folks are sick of getting blamed for nutrients in the water.”

An environmental specialist has been hired to oversee a Lake Assistance Program. That program is intended to help lakeshore property owners, who can volunteer to get help to prevent nutrients from their yards from entering the lake.

“You see lawns straight down to the 25-foot setback, and you cringe, wondering how the grass got so green,” Stevens said of those who apply fertilizers that can enter the lake.

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The Coeur d’Alene Lake Management Plan could help avoid having the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declare the area a Superfund site. The federal agency has agreed not to include the lake in its Superfund clean-up of mining waste as long as the state and tribe successfully carry out the plan.

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