Photo by M. Kjelstad, 2010


Population and Drinking Water Supply
  • Lake Whatcom is the drinking water source for over 100,000 residents of Whatcom County, about half the county's population.

  • Lake Whatcom provides drinking water for the City of Bellingham, the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, several smaller water districts and associations, and a few hundred homes that draw water directly from the lake.

  • The City of Bellingham withdraws water from Basin 2 through a 1,200-foot pipeline that goes to Whatcom Falls Park. 

  • About 16,000 people live in the Lake Whatcom Watershed, in about 7,000 homes (As of January 2018).

Volume, Area, Elevation

  • Lake Whatcom holds about 250 billion gallons of water.

  • Lake Whatcom is about 10 miles long and just over a mile wide at its widest point.

  • Total shoreline length is approximately 30 miles.

  • Surface area of Lake Whatcom is about 5,000 acres, with 8 percent within City limits.

  • Surface area of Lake Whatcom Watershed is about 56 square miles (36,000 acres), with about 3 percent within City limits.

  • Average elevation is approximately 314 feet above sea level.

  • Maximum lake level is 314.94 feet.

  • The City of Bellingham controls lake level using a control dam at the head of Whatcom Creek.

Tributaries and Drainage

  • Lake Whatcom is fed by 36 tributaries, including: Silver Beach Creek, Carpenter Creek, Olsen Creek, Smith Creek, Anderson Creek, and Austin Creek. Other creeks flow only intermittently.

  • Lake Whatcom also receives water diverted from the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River.

  • Lake Whatcom naturally drains into Bellingham Bay via Whatcom Creek.
These lake facts can be found on page 12 in the City's 2007 Guide to the Lake Whatcom Watershed:  Stewards of the Lake.

History of Lake Whatcom
Bathymetry Map of Lake Whatcom