An estimated 20,000 gallons of sewage effluent has been spilled on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Arrow Point over the past week, according to a statement issued by the Arrow Point Community Association.
The spill took place about 200 feet from the lakeshore. It’s unknown if any of the sewage made it to the lake, said John Tindall, with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The state is investigating and has taken a water sample, though the results are not yet back from the lab.
The Arrow Point Community well is about 1,000 feet away. Lab tests indicate the sewage did not seep into the water, according to tests taken by the state. There appears to be no threat to human health at this time, especially given the low likelihood anyone is swimming in the popular resort area this time of year, Tindall said.
“There would be such a huge dilution that our experience is it would be difficult to detect an impact,” he said.
The sewage spilled out of a septic tank lid over the course of three to five days after both septic pumps failed, Tindall said. The spill was discovered Wednesday afternoon. Within two hours, a truck was at the scene and had pumped about 2,000 gallons out of the lift station to prevent further releases of sewage.
Although the ground is frozen, much of the effluent is believed to have seeped into a recently excavated hole near the septic tank. The excavation was not the cause of the pumps’ failure, Tindall said.
The spill appears to be nothing more than a case of equipment failure, Tindall said, and no fines or citations will be coming from the state.
Arrow Point is about three miles directly south of the city of Coeur d’Alene. If any sewage made it to the lake, it would break down, decompose and disappear well before the water warms, Tindall said.