Rusty Sheppard is our resident expert on all things environmental, regarding the Spokane River. He has been involved in many different aspects of environmental issues throughout our area for many years.
Activities of the Environmental Committee
One of the main purposes in forming the Spokane River Association was to ensure clean water, safe recreational use, prevent beach erosion and protect the habitat of native wildlife. It is readily apparent that three of the four reasons for founding our Association was to safeguard the environment of the river. This is the prime objective of the Environmental Committee. In order for the members of the association to realize the organization’s purpose is to actively be engaged in the environmental issues affecting the environment in and around the Spokane River. Following is a list of the current issues being pursued by the committee:
Superfund Status Update
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of finalizing a “Rod Amendment” to the 2002 Record of Decision (ROD). The final version of the document is scheduled to be released in July 2012. The draft of the proposed Rod Amendment was released in early 2010 at the cost of $1.3 billion.
Your association BOD submitted comments to the Rod Amendment in November 2010 suggesting to the EPA that an efficient cleanup could be conducted in the Upper Basin for between $600 and $700 million. After reviewing the public comments for 18 months, EPA recently announced that they would reduce the cost of the ROD Amendment to $720 million, but changed it from a final Rod amendment to another interim Rod Amendment.
The Rod Amendment is only covering the Upper Coeur d’ Alene (CDA) Basin. EPA is currently studying the distribution of the metal contamination in the Lower Basin, which includes the CDA River from the confluence of the North and the South branches of the CDA River. It is estimated these studies will be completed in 2 to 3 years, after which EPA will prepare a separate Rod Amendment, if required, which is projected to be completed in 2019.
EPA has accrued approximately $465 Million from an ASCARO settlement and $265 million from a Hecla settlement. The Upper Basin work is projected to be completed in approximately 30 years. It is important that SRA monitors the cleanup plans being developed by EPA to ensure that the large sums of money are spent wisely.
Kootenai Co. Natural Resource Advisory Board
In 2010 an advisory group of concerned citizens drafted a Natural Resource Plan for Kootenai County. The Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) finalized the plan and organized an advisory Board (NRAB) in Dec. 2010.
The purpose of the Board was to advise the Commissioners when other units of government, such as U. S. Government agencies, State Government agencies and Tribal agencies, proposed work that would affect the Natural Resources of Kootenai County. The Board Chairman is currently Rusty Sheppard, with 6 other Board members. They meet monthly on the first Thursday of each month in an open meeting and monthly agendas may be obtained from Teri Anderson in the BOCC County offices.
This group (NRAB) functions to advise the BOCC in what is called the “Coordination Process”, which is required in most Federal and State Laws when they propose "land use" actions. The past year has been spent on the organizational issues of the NARB and its operating procedures, By-Laws and appointment of Board Members.
The NRAB is currently reviewing three major items:
1) Fernan Creek “Shooting Range”.
2) Panhandle Forest Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for future work in the North Idaho US Forests.
3) US Fish and Wildlife Proposal to set aside over 700 thousand acres of north Idaho US Forest for the caribou. The acreage of forest lands is in Bonner and Boundary Counties, but may in the future be extended into Kootenai County.
NPDES permits for Coeur d’ Alene and Hayden Area Wastewater Plants
The NPDES permits have not been issued. Post Falls and Hayden Sewer District has filed a lawsuit in US District Court, suing EPA regarding the draft NPDES permits, Both entities are claiming that EPA is not treating them the same as Spokane Wastewater treatment plants and that is in violation of the US Constitution of equal protection for the states of Idaho and Washington. The Case is still pending in the US district court.
BEIPC that Oversees the OU3 Coeur d’ Alene Basin Superfund Site
The 10 Region of EPA is in the process of writing a Rod Amendment to the 2002 OU3 Rod. The SRA Board of Directors submitted the association comments to the draft Rod Amendment in November 2010. Rusty Sheppard, the Kootenai County Technical representative, is currently on a PFT that is reviewing for EPA the prioritization of the contaminated properties in the Upper Basin (Silver Valley) prior to the release of the Rod admenment. EPA is scheduled to release the Rod Amenment in September 2011.
Lake Management Plan
DEQ and CDA Tribe are currently finishing a public study designed to get a cross section of public opinion of their knowledge of the condition of CDA Lake and what agencies are responsible for the maintenance of water quality in the Lake. a final report of that study is scheduled for May 2011. Additionally both agencies have been monitoring the current status of the lake and the major rivers input. They are scheduled to release a final report on their 2009 monitoring efforts. The 2010 monitoring will be reported in the early summer of 2011.
New Natural Resource Board
In December 2010 Kootenai County organized a new Board called the Natural Resource Board. The Board will be involved in coordinating discussion on any action by a non-County government related to natural resources and the Counties charter to control all land use actions within the jurisdiction of the county. Rusty Sheppard was appointed a member of the Board. There are currently 3 vacancies on the board and if any member of SRA would like to be involved should contact Commissioner Todd Tondee at the County Court house.