News & Events

2023 Lake Whatcom Survey Results Available

In 2023, the City of Bellingham contracted ReconMR to conduct the 2023 Lake Whatcom Survey. This survey builds on the 2018 comprehensive baseline survey and will continue to be conducted every five years to evaluate the effectiveness of outreach efforts and to inform future work plan priorities. Those living within the watershed, as well as recreation users, play a crucial role in ensuring water quality and the long-term success of the Lake Whatcom Management Program (LWMP).  Read the results of the 2023 Lake Whatcom Survey here.

Posted 4/4/2024

2023 Whatcom Boat Inspections Report Now Available

The 2023 Whatcom Boat Inspections Annual Report is now available! Read the details of our inspections carried out over the past year along with an overview of our program's activities in 2023 and updates on developments that will influence our work in 2024 and beyond. The report's information is also available through an interactive Story Map. This annual report is an important resource for stakeholders and the community, providing key insights into our ongoing efforts to preserve our lakes from aquatic invasive species. As always, remember to Clean Drain and Dry your boat and other water vessels!

Posted 4/1/2024

Special City Council Meeting: Annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commissioners Meeting

Mar 27 (Wednesday) , 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

This is the annual joint legislative meeting of the Lake Whatcom Management Program and will include the Bellingham City Council, the Whatcom County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners. At the meeting staff will review Lake Whatcom Program activities completed in 2023 and underway in 2024 to reduce phosphorus and other threats to Lake Whatcom. Participants will also be briefed on the results of the Lake Whatcom Monitoring Project Report from the Institute for Watershed Studies at Western Washington University.

Council members will participate in this meeting in-person in City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie Street, Bellingham, or remotely through the Zoom platform. Members of the public may come to the meeting in person or watch remotely at this link. Council meetings are streamed live via the City’s website at and on the City’s YouTube channel. Meetings are broadcast in high definition on BTV on Comcast channel 321, and in standard definition on Comcast channel 10. Detailed information can be found five days prior to the meeting at

Manage your leaves to protect our water

Leaves and other yard debris can pollute our water and cause flooding when managed incorrectly. Instead of piling debris where it may leach excess nutrients or block drainage, try one of the following options:

If you can do so safely, please clear storm drains of leaves and debris or report blocked drains:

Posted: 12/7/2023

2023 Protecting Our Watershed Newsletter

The annual Whatcom County Protecting Our Watershed newsletter was mailed to residents in the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility service area. This issue includes information on managing pet waste, how to participate in the new Neighborhood Native Landscaping Program, and recent stormwater projects. Read the newsletter here.

Posted December 6, 2023

The 2023 Lake Whatcom Baseline Survey is live!

This winter the Lake Whatcom Management Program is providing the 2023 Lake Whatcom Baseline survey to watershed residents. The survey will help inform education efforts and improve services in the watershed to help protect Lake Whatcom. For those who live within watershed limits, you will receive an invitation in the mail to take the survey online. Up to four members of the household, 18 years of age and older, are allowed to take the survey. If you did not receive an invitation, it's likely because you don't live in the watershed. But if you believe you do live in the watershed and have not received an invitation, please contact us. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact at City of Bellingham Public Works.  

Posted Nov. 13th 2023

October Lake Whatcom Lowdown Now Available

Check out the October Issue of the Lake Whatcom Lowdown, our quarterly e-newsletter with watershed updates and stewardship opportunities. This latest issue provides information on private property improvement programs, managing leaves, wildfire preparedness, photo contest winners, the Geneva Bioretention Pilot Project, land acquisitions and preservation, watershed work window closure, and the Lake Whatcom Water Level Dashboard.  Click here to subscribe! Links to past issues are available in our Lake Whatcom Lowdown Archive

Posted October 27, 2023

Bloedel and Samish AIS Check Stations Close for the Season

The final day for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspections and wire seals at Bloedel Donovan and Lake Samish is Thursday, September 28th. The final day for inspections and wire seals at Sudden Valley is Sunday, September 24th. Boat owners are encouraged to have their boats wire sealed, if they do not plan on using it throughout the winter months, to ensure a speedy and efficient start to the 2024 boating season. Please note that launch closure times will vary on available daylight.

If you happen to miss us at the boat launch, don’t worry! Our year round staff are available (starting October 2nd) Monday – Friday 8:30 AM  – 4:30 PM to meet you at the launch when you retrieve your vessel. Just be sure to call with advance notice.

To find out the most current hours of operation, to schedule an appointment, or to have your vessel wire sealed, please call the AIS Boat Inspection Hotline at: (360) 778-7975.

Our permits for the upcoming 2024 season will arrive sometime in January and our team will be standing by to get boaters updated permits soon after the new year.

Thank you all again and see you in 2024!

Posted September 27, 2023

Lake Whatcom Watershed Work Window Closes

September 30th is the last day of the work window for ground disturbing activities in the Lake Whatcom watershed. Ground disturbing activities include clearing vegetation, adding topsoil or fill, and other activities that move or expose soil. Special regulations apply to prevent erosion during the rainy season from October 1st to May 31st. Dirty water flowing into Lake Whatcom adds phosphorus, harming water quality and aquatic life. Learn more:

Thank you for timing your work to prevent erosion!

Posted September 18, 2023

South Bay Boat Launch Closed Aug. 21- Sep. 30

The South Bay boat launch will be closed from August 21 through September 30, 2023 for redevelopment. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will construct a new concrete boat launch, dock, vault toilet, pave the parking lot and create parking stalls. More information on the project and closure is available at the WDFW Lake Whatcom webpage.

Posted July 10, 2023

Lake Whatcom Boat Launch Closed July 8th, 4am-2pm

The Lake Whatcom Boat Launch station will be closed July 8th from 4am-2pm to accommodate the Lake Whatcom Triathlon. More information about the Lake Whatcom Triathlon can be found here: 

Reduce Your Phosphorus Use

Excess phosphorus can enter waterways, where it causes algal blooms that lead to depleted oxygen in the water. You can limit the amount by learning environmental-friendly gardening techniques and by using phosphorus-free fertilizers when necessary. The WSU Extension Gardening Green Course is a great place to learn.


Fertilizer products list three numbers from left to right for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).  For a phosphorus-free fertilizer, make sure the middle number is zero. Local laws prohibit using fertilizer containing phosphorus in the Lake Whatcom watershed and State law prohibits the sale and application of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.

Posted: May 12, 2023

Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish Boat Launches Now Open!

It’s that time of the year again! April 22nd marks the start of the 2023 summer boating season for the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program. Aquatic Invasive Species Program staff will be conducting watercraft inspections and decontaminations at four sites in the Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish Watershed. Our season schedule is as follows:

Bloedel Donovan : (7 days a Week) April 22nd – Sept 30th 5:00 AM until 9:00 PM

Samish Boat Launch: (7 days a week) April 22nd – Sept 30th: 5:00 AM until 9:00 PM

South Bay Boat Launch:  (Weekends/Holidays Only) April 22nd – August 20th: 9:00 AM until 6:30 PM

Sudden Valley:  (Weekends/ Holidays Only) May 6th – Mid September: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Posted April 20th, 2023

Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commissioners Meeting to be held March 29 at 6:30pm

The Lake Whatcom Management Program will host its annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in-person and there will also be an on-line option via Zoom. Members of the Bellingham City Council, Whatcom County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners will be in attendance. The meeting will be open to the public and aired live on BTV. A public comment period is scheduled for this meeting, and members of the public will be given two minutes to speak each. 

Additional meeting resources including the Lake Whatcom Management Program 2020-2024 Work Plan, the 2022 Lake Whatcom Management Program Progress Report, the Lake Whatcom Monitoring Project 2021/2022 Report and other documents can be found by clicking the "read more" button below.

Get $10 Off Your 2023 Annual AIS Boating Permit  

During the pandemic, the City of Bellingham offered financial relief for the Whatcom Boat Inspection program by automatically applying a $10 discount to the price of annual Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) boating permits required to launch on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. With the end of the Washington State COVID-19 emergency orders, annual permit costs are reverting to the pre-pandemic price structure. But the AIS boating permit discount is still available. Visit, and take the AIS Awareness Course. Complete the test to earn your "AIS Awareness Course Certificate" and a $10 online discount code for your 2023 permit purchase. Thank you for being a responsible steward of our local lakes and preventing the spread of invasive species! We look forward to seeing you on the water in 2023.

Posted January 19th, 2023

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting December 7, 2022

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a hybrid in-person and virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 7 at 3:00 p.m.  This is a public meeting.  To attend, location information and link to join online are provided on the meeting agenda

Posted November 29, 2022

Attend a Water Week event September 10-18

Celebrate our local water resources during Whatcom Water Week, September 10-18, 2022. Water Week offers family-friendly events throughout the county with opportunities to have fun, learn, and make a difference. Visit for a complete calendar of events.  

There are events of all kinds throughout the county. In the Lake Whatcom watershed, the Self-Guided Lake Whatcom tour is back on the Rufus Creek Trail in the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. Check it out anytime during Water Week. Visit Lake Whatcom Park on Tuesday, September 13 from 3-6 p.m. and look for the Whatcom County Public Works Stormwater Division booth to learn about simple ways you can prevent water pollution.

posted September 1, 2022

Curious about Lake Whatcom water quality?

Why does Lake Whatcom have a water quality problem? What can we do about it? Watch this new short video produced by the City of Bellingham to find out.

posted August 29, 2022

New boat? Schedule an inspection.

We’re witnessing a surge in lake residents who have recently purchased a new or used boat. Many of the used watercraft are coming from mussel infested waters. Our inspection staff have already decontaminated 22 boats this season, more than the past two seasons combined!

If you recently purchased a boat, call  360-778-7975 to schedule your Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspection (and possible decontamination) in advance and avoid delays at the launch. Thank you for helping protect our local waters from aquatic invasive species! 

Posted August 24, 2022

Marigold Drive Stormwater Improvements Project

Whatcom County is improving the stormwater system on Marigold Drive in Sudden Valley. This new treatment system is designed to improve water quality from neighborhood run-off entering Lake Louise.

Construction is scheduled for mid-July through the end of September.  However, weather and other factors could affect the project schedule and hours. Approximate working hours are 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekdays. Marigold Drive will be limited to single-lane traffic control, and both lanes will reopen on nights, weekends, and holidays.

For more info and updates visit the project web page.  

Posted August 18, 2022

Save our Water. Save Your Money.

Rebates are available to help Lake Whatcom watershed residents reduce their water use by installing high efficiency toilets, clothes washers, or irritation controllers. 

Looking for more ways to reduce your water bill and help keep more water in Lake Whatcom this summer? Follow the voluntary watering schedule. Let your lawn get a tan! Visit for more tips. 

Posted July 11, 2022

Be Safe and Watch Your Wake

It's summer finally! Be safe when you’re out on the lakes. Boating speed rules and no wake zones on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish keep swimmers and boaters safe and protect the shoreline from erosion.  Less erosion is better for water quality and protects shoreline vegetation and property.  Review speed and safety rules for Lake Whatcom on our On the Lake Safe Boating page.

Posted: July 1, 2022

Check Your Motor. Protect Lake Whatcom.

Check your motor before you head out onto the lake this season: cleaner, low emission motors are required on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish to protect water quality. Look for the label on your motor and make sure it has at least one star. Visit our On the Lake page to learn more.

Posted July 1, 2022

Keep Lake Whatcom in Mind When You Mow this Spring

Gather your grass clippings! Your unmanaged grass clippings may add nutrients like phosphorus to our waterways and Lake Whatcom. Nutrients feed algae blooms, which can harm water quality and wildlife. You can help manage your clippings by using FoodPlus!, bringing them to a local disposal service, or composting at home using a contained system. Go to to learn more. 

Posted: May 20, 2022

Learn what the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility accomplished in 2021

The 2021 Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility (LWSU) Annual Report is now available. This utility provides additional funding for Whatcom County stormwater management programs and activities in the Lake Whatcom watershed. Read the report to learn what the LWSU accomplished in 2021 and how utility funds were spent.  

For more information visit:

Posted: May 11, 2022 

Monitoring results show success of AIS program

The Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program continued to safeguard Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish from invasive species. Monitoring and early detection of AIS is an important strategy of lake protection. Learn more about our monitoring efforts in the 2021 AIS Annual Report.

Posted April 1, 2022

AIS inspection results for 2021 are now available!

The Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program had a successful year protecting Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish from invasive species. Despite high boat traffic and record-breaking heat, crews were able to inspect over 14,400 boats, preventing the spread of invasive species to our local lakes. Learn more in the 2021 AIS Annual Report.  

Posted April 1, 2022

Invasive Species Awareness Week

Invasive Species Awareness Week takes place February 28 through March 4. Members of the public are encouraged to learn more about the challenges and solutions associated with invasive fish, bugs, plants and other wildlife that threaten our state’s natural resources. Free online info sessions are offered by the Washington Invasive Species Council throughout the week. Topics include Pacific European Green Crab, Giant Hornet, and the Aquatic Invasive Species Program efforts to protect our local lakes. Register for the info sessions to learn more about how you can be part of the solution.

Posted February 28, 2022