North Idaho cities working to keep Spokane River clean - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

North Idaho cities working to keep Spokane River clean

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Photo Courtesy: Robert Ashworth Photo Courtesy: Robert Ashworth
KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - The Coeur d'Alene Wastewater department is building new equipment that will help them meet newly established limitations put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Over the next 10 years, Coeur d'alene, Post Falls, and Hayden must all cut down the levels of phosphorus going into the Spokane River by 90 percent. 

Phosphorus is a nutrient created by humans. Once phosphorus goes into the river it produces algae. That algae absorbs oxygen, and too much algae can start to kill off fish populations. 

"One pound of phosphorus can consume 16 pounds of oxygen, that's why it's a great concern," says Sid Frederickson, the Coeur d'Alene Wastewater Superintendent. 

Frederickson was on site Tuesday going over the equipment built for this specific project. While the limitations were just established this past week, Frederickson and his crews have been waiting for this over the last ten years. 

"The whole process for total, maximum daily load for dissolved oxygen, to protect Lake Spokane started in 1998 and the final plan did not get approved until 2010. It was a 12 year struggle to get it all done," says Frederickson. 

Frederickson says the biggest obstacle when it comes to cutting down phosphorus levels by 90 percent is money. However he says his department has been expecting these regulations over the past 12 years, so the nearly $40 million dollar price tag isn't a problem. 
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