Project completed near former swimming hole

Staff Reporter | October 16, 2020 2:37 PM

BURKE — Work crews with the Coeur d’Alene Work Trust recently wrapped up a project at the Burke Swimming Hole.

The swimming hole, located less than half a mile from I-90 up Burke Canyon, has been a popular recreation site for many years- despite being a hot spot for heavy metals pollution.

The primary goal of the recently completed project was to dissuade and prevent folks from using the area as a recreational swimming site.

Crews from the CDA Work Trust, under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dug out several feet of contaminated soils and other materials from the Canyon Creek streambanks and installed “riprap” along the banks. Riprap is rock that is placed by streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings, and other shoreline structures usually as protection against erosion. In the instance of Canyon creek though, it will also be used as a deterrent.

According to EPA Project Manager Bonnie Arthur, the project area had seen an increased level of activity over the last few years. The brief, three-day project, was designed to protect people who have been using the area from the contaminants that are steadily replenished each spring during the annual runoff.

“The streambanks of the creek are made up of rock and sediment that flowed downstream from upstream areas impacted by historical mining and mill sites,” Arthur said. “The banks contain lead and other metals that pose a risk to people’s health. Our top priority is to protect people’s health.”

With plans in place to begin other Canyon Creek remediation projects that are upstream from the Burke Swimming Hole, as well as the opening of the new Canyon Creek Repository, Arthur believes that future upstream projects could lead to areas like the swimming hole being possibly reopened down the line.

“We want to see families out recreating,” Arthur said. “But until they can clean up the sites upstream, we just didn’t see a way to safely allow people to recreate there.”

For more information, please contact EPA Project Manager Bonnie Arthur at 206-553-4072.