With the help from PotlatchDeltic, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and Timber Plus, the Department of Environmental Quality wants to make the air cleaner for St. Maries residents.
The first part of their plan to help with combating air pollution is replacing outdated and inefficient wood stoves throughout the region.
Phase one of the change out plan will target low income households. Shawn Sweetapple, the air quality manager in the Coeur d'Alene region for the DEQ, said that replacing the stoves will help prevent an air quality issue in the area from getting worse.
“This is all part of a program called the Particulate Matter (PM) Advance Program,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “It's a program that the EPA does to help communities having air quality problems and is designed to prevent problems from getting worse.”
Mr. Sweetapple said that the group formed a committee to address air quality issues in the region. The group came up with the idea to target wood stoves first, citing a large amount of PM is produced by outdated stoves.
“After looking at air quality over the years, we are finding that one of the things making it go up is the wood stoves,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “They are a large source of smoke in the winters and a lot of those larger inversions are in the cold days of winter. On those days where there is more burning, we hit closer to that max amount of PM.”
“The average pollution created by an older stove is about 40 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter of air per hour,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “A brand new stove would produce about 2 micrograms per hour.”
He said that PotlatchDeltic matched the DEQ's funds for the program and that the Coeur d'Alene Tribe also granted the DEQ $31,000.
Mr. Sweetapple said that the funds for the program has reached $70,000, which would mean the replacement of about 15 to 20 stoves for the first round.
The stoves will be free for approved applicants, and Mr. Sweetapple said that they want to keep any other costs as low as possible for those who get the replacements.
“In other towns we are finding that having the replacements don't include if they need need chimney replacement,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “We are offering higher amounts than we did in the past so that people who do get the stoves shouldn't have to pay much out of pocket, if any.”
Mr. Sweetapple said that the committee is also seeking input from the community. Information on when the committee meets can be obtained by calling city hall at 208-245-2577 or by calling Mr. Sweetapple at 208-666-4602.
Those who are interested in participating in the stove replacement program must have a stove that is either 20 or more years old or own a stove that is not up to EPA standards.
Applications for the first round of replacements will be open between July 1 and July 15.
Applications can be found at St. Maries City Hall or by visiting deq.idaho.gov.