Feature Stories‎ > ‎

Lake Whatcom water quality report published, submitted to EPA for approval

posted Dec 3, 2014, 12:58 PM by City of Bellingham
In November, Ecology completed the final water quality improvement study, known as the TMDL report, for Lake Whatcom.

Lake Whatcom is the primary drinking water source for about 100,000 people in and around Bellingham. Ecology determined in 1998 that the lake fails to meet water quality standards. The primary concern is low levels of dissolved oxygen as a result of increased levels of phosphorous and fecal coliform bacteria entering the lake.

Since 2002, Ecology has worked on a water quality improvement study called the Lake Whatcom TMDL (total maximum daily load).

The final TMDL report concluded that in order to restore the health and quality of the lake, approximately 87 percent of the current development around the lake needs to be able to store and filter stormwater like a forest, and bacteria levels in the most contaminated streams need to be reduced up to 96 percent.

The final report includes minor changes from the draft TMDL (2013) as well as a response to comments. In addition, the report includes a conservative estimate of the progress that has already been made by partners on meeting TMDL goals. Ecology applauds these efforts to meet expectations of the TMDL before it is finalized.

The 2-volume water quality improvement report (WQIR) has been sent to EPA for approval.

More Information:

Department of Ecology: Lake Whatcom Water Quality Improvement Project website

Lake Whatcom Watershed Total Phosphorus and Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads: Volume 2. Water Quality Improvement Report and Implementation Strategy

Lake Whatcom Watershed Total Phosphorus and Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads: Volume 1. Water Quality Study Findings