Consolidating Waste and Cleaning Coeur d’Alene’s Watershed
Since the late 1800s, northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Basin has endured the extraction of millions of tons of ore as prospectors collected the fruitful resources the basin held so plentiful. Known as “The Silver Valley” for its abundant supply of silver, zinc and lead, the basin is historically famous for being one of the largest silver mining districts in the country. The waste build-up from more than a century of mining in the Coeur d’Alene Basin has contributed to the area’s polluted watershed, impacting the surrounding environment and wildlife.
A Settlement for the Superfund Site
The Coeur d’Alene Basin, also named the Bunker Hill Superfund Site, has been on the United State Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Priorities List since 1983. In 2009, the site made history for being a part of the largest settlement ever granted in EPA history: the $1.7 billion settlement included funding for cleanups across the country, with approximately $494 million granted to the Bunker Hill Superfund Site and Coeur d’Alene Trust for the recovery of wildlife and natural resources.
CDM Smith was awarded an engineering support contract with the Coeur d’Alene Trust in 2012. Our first task was to consolidate approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of mine waste at the East Fork Ninemile Waste Consolidation Area in the basin. We worked closely with the Coeur d’Alene Trust as the engineering, design and construction management consultant to deliver a successful project in compliance with EPA standards.
Cleaning up the Coeur d’Alene Basin
The high quality design coupled with the teamwork and leadership with everyone involved has allowed this project to be executed with only minimal/minor changes.
CDM Smith successfully delivered the first phase of this project on-time and within budget. A Project Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commended the team, noting: “I was very impressed with the quality of CDM Smith's design. Projects like this are very complex and are ripe for having unidentified site conditions. The high quality design coupled with the teamwork and leadership with everyone involved has allowed this project to be executed with only minimal/minor changes.”
The cleanup of the East Fork Ninemile watershed is ongoing and expected to be complete in 2022, providing a healthier and more vibrant environment for nearby communities and wildlife. CDM Smith continues to provide engineering support the clean-up.