Coeur d’Alene Lake, located in Idaho’s Panhandle, has long been a hub for recreation, tourism, and economic activity. The area is also home to historical mining activity, and millions of tons of metals-laden sediments (e.g., zinc, lead, and cadmium) are present in the lake bottom. More recent land uses continue to contribute to the addition of excess nutrient loading, especially phosphorus. Elevated phosphorus levels can affect the chemistry in deep water near the lakebed where these heavy metals are contained. This could lead to low oxygen levels that unlock these metals and release them into the environment.
Although water quality in the lake has improved over the last several decades, phosphorus levels have been increasing. Managing phosphorus levels is critical to protecting the health of Coeur d’Alene Lake, and in 2021, Governor Little established the Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee and directed $2 million in Leading Idaho funds for projects that reduce phosphorus and improve water quality in Coeur d’Alene Lake. The following year, Idaho directed an additional $31 million from the American Rescue Plan Act funds to further the Leading Idaho effort.
The Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee solicited project proposals in August 2021 and recommended funding for 19 cleanup projects. DEQ is currently working with funding recipients to implement these projects, which will take place through 2026.
See DEQ’s Coeur d’Alene Lake Advisory Committee storymap for more information about ongoing cleanup projects.
Leading Idaho Funding Overview
The following table includes Leading Idaho projects that have funding agreements in place.