Clean Up Costs For Spokane River

By Tom Bacon

There's a price to be paid for cleaning up the Spokane River from Lake Coeur d' Alene to the state line, and residents of Coeur d' Alene, Post Falls and Rathdrum will pay it.
 
The Coeur d' Alene city council has begun adding a drainage system utility fee to resident's monthly utility bills.  The amount varies from 3-76 a month for residents whose property is drained by wastewater pipes, to 4-13 a month for areas of the city served primarily by grassy swales adjacent to city streets.

Coeur d' Alene is under an E-P-A mandate to meet tough new quality requirements for storm water dumped into the river, as are Post Falls and Rathdrum.  Wastewater rate increases in the latter two cities will be much higher - in the neighborhood of 60 percent over the next five years - to pay for about 30-million dollars in treatment plant upgrades to meet discharge permit requirements.  The increases will be imposed at about 14 percent for each of the next two fiscal years, declining slightly for three years after that.

All three Idaho municipalities are obligated to cut phosphorus levels oozing into the Spokane River from surface water runoff in spring and summer months. The Post Falls treatment plant now removes 95 percent of the phosphorus, but will be required to filter out 99 percent of it with the plant modifications.
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