News & Events

Septic Maintenance Rebates Available in the Lake Whatcom Watershed

Did you know septic system evaluations are required every 1 or 3 years, depending on the type of system you have? Performing regular evaluations and maintenance now can save you money in the long run.


We can help reduce the cost of your evaluation. Take advantage of our Septic Maintenance Rebate Program, and you could get up to $200 back! Certain restrictions and requirements apply, including completion of a free training. Visit the website, or call Molly Burke at (360) 778-6267 for more info.


Posted November 30, 2021

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting December 1, 2021

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 1 at 3:00 p.m. This meeting is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted November 24, 2021

Volunteer to help protect Lake Whatcom

Do you live, work, or play in the Lake Whatcom watershed? To serve the interests of the community and protect watershed health, we have developed some exciting volunteer opportunities. We are currently offering three ways to get involved:


  1. Watershed Watchers: Activities include reporting flooding, erosion, and pollution problems, picking up litter with a provided kit, and/or keeping storm drains free of debris.

  2. Photo Sharing: Share your photos of Lake Whatcom, the surrounding forests and trails, and the people and wildlife that call this beautiful place home.

  3. Pet Waste Ambassador: help us spread the message that picking up after your pet is the right thing to do!


Visit our website to learn more. If you’re interested, scroll down and fill out the volunteer interest form. We will get back to you with more information.


Posted November 22, 2021

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:

  • Use FoodPlus!

  • Bring them to a local disposal service

  • If composting at home, use a covered and contained compost system

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

  • Whatcom County: (360) 778-6400

  • City of Bellingham: (360) 778-7979 or report online at cob.org/SeeClickFix


Posted: November 19, 2021

Keep current with Lake Whatcom

Interested in learning about water quality protection and stewardship opportunities in the Lake Whatcom watershed? Subscribe to the Lake Whatcom Lowdown, a quarterly e-newsletter with updates about Lake Whatcom protection efforts. Click here to subscribe. View the October edition and other past issues at our Resources Page.


Posted: November 1, 2021

Lake Whatcom Watershed Work Window Closing for the Season

The work window for ground disturbing activities closes September 30 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 1 to May 31. Dirty water flowing into Lake Whatcom adds phosphorus, harming water quality and aquatic life. Learn more:

Thank you for taking care to prevent erosion during the rainy season.

Posted September 30, 2021


Take the Self-Guided Lake Whatcom Tour Virtually

Water Week is over, but if you missed the self-guided Lake Whatcom tour on the Hertz Trail you can still learn about the lake’s history, fun facts, and stewardship opportunities. The signs are now on our website to enjoy year-round. Take a look then get out on a walk at one of the many great trails in the watershed.

Posted September 21, 2021

Take a Self-Guided Tour along Lake Whatcom

Interested in learning more about Lake Whatcom while exploring the Hertz Trail? Informational signs about the Lake's history, facts, and stewardship opportunities will be posted along this popular trail along the northern shore of Lake Whatcom for hikers of all ages to enjoy during Water Week from September 11-19. Please remember to recreate responsibly by picking up after your pets, staying on the trail, and carrying out your trash to keep the lake litter-free.

Photo credit: Kristin Lunderville

Posted September 9, 2021

Whatcom Water Week is September 11-19

Whatcom Water Week is just around the corner! Mark your calendars for September 11-19. Events this year include tours, fun runs, salmon sightings, storytime, restoration work parties, beach clean ups, and more! View the full calendar of events at whatcomwaterweeks.org/events. Events are free, family-friendly, in-person, and virtual. There’s something for everyone.

Posted September 2, 2021

New Volunteer Program in the Lake Whatcom Watershed!

Do you live, work, or play in the Lake Whatcom watershed? To serve the interests of the community and protect watershed health, we have developed some opportunities to volunteer in the Lake Whatcom watershed. We are currently offering three ways to volunteer:


  1. Watershed Watchers: Activities include reporting flooding, erosion, and pollution problems, picking up litter with a provided kit, and/or keeping storm drains free of debris.

  2. Photo Sharing: Share your photos of Lake Whatcom, the surrounding forests and trails, and the people and wildlife that call this beautiful place home.

  3. Pet Waste Ambassador: help us spread the message that picking up after your pet is the right thing to do!


Visit our website to learn more. If you’re interested, scroll down and fill out the volunteer interest form. We will get back to you with more information.


Posted August 31, 2021

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting September 1, 2021

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, September 1 at 3:00 p.m. This meeting is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted August 25, 2021

New plan focuses on solving stormwater problems in Geneva

Whatcom County recently completed the East Geneva Subwatershed Master Plan. This plan was developed using a systematic approach to identify stormwater problems and recommend solutions to those problems in the East Geneva Subwatershed. The plan outlines actions the county can take to improve drainage infrastructure, reduce flood risk, and improve water quality. Read the plan to learn more.

Posted August 17, 2021

Stormwater Improvement Construction Coming to Silver Beach Creek Area

A construction project designed to improve the water quality entering Silver Beach Creek from the Woodlake Meadow Estates stormwater system will start this August and continue through September. This project will modify the existing stormwater system by installing a Modular Wetland System (MWS) and new storm pipe to reduce phosphorus loading of Lake Whatcom.


A MWS is an underground concrete vault that filters stormwater and removes many pollutants that impact Lake Whatcom’s water quality. These MWS’s are relatively compact and versatile, making them a useful tool to retrofit existing stormwater systems. They effectively remove common stormwater pollutants like heavy metals, hydrocarbons, bacteria, suspended solids, and phosphorus. Watch this video to learn how MWSs work!


Visit the project page for more information and construction updates


Posted August 2, 2021

Want to keep in the loop about the lake?

Interested in learning about water quality protection and stewardship opportunities in the Lake Whatcom watershed? Subscribe to the Lake Whatcom Lowdown, a quarterly e-newsletter with updates about Lake Whatcom protection efforts. Click here to subscribe. View the July edition and other past issues here.

Posted July 27, 2021

New city project is a big step for Lake Whatcom cleanup

Curious about the construction near the intersection of Northshore Drive and Britton Road? The City of Bellingham is upgrading a stormwater facility that will treat an astounding 53% of all runoff entering Lake Whatcom through the City’s stormwater pipes. The Park Place Water Quality Facility will use new, state-of-the-art filtration material developed by the City. The new material will not only effectively remove phosphorus and other pollutants from stormwater, but will do it at a faster rate than other existing systems. It will save money and space and get us one big step closer to a healthy Lake Whatcom. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.


To learn more, visit the City of Bellingham’s project overview page.

Posted July 22, 2021

How will you save water this summer?

Did you know that during the dry summer months, outdoor watering increases our community’s daily average drinking water demand from 10 to 15 million gallons per day? This places an extra strain on the City’s d​rinking water supply. Watering lawns and landscapes accounts for 80-90% of the increase. Nearly half of this water is wasted due to evaporation loss, over-watering and run-off.

Learn about smart watering tips and pledge to reduce your outdoor watering here.

Posted July 16, 2021

Improve your wildfire awareness and safety

Attention Lake Whatcom area residents! The Whatcom Conservation District is hosting two FREE workshops on wildfire featuring local experts and great resources for residents to improve wildfire awareness and safety. Also, check out details for a chance to win local prizes! Click here for more details and registration information.

Posted July 14, 2021

Watershed Work Window Opened June 1

Are you planning a home improvement project in the Lake Whatcom watershed? Keep in mind that certain projects that disturb or expose soil can only be completed during the “watershed work window” from June 1 to September 30 each year. Limiting projects that move and disturb soil—such as construction and landscaping changes—to dry season months reduces the chance of rainwater washing soil particles into the lake. Special requirements vary by project type, size, and scope. Before starting any home improvement project, be sure to contact your local permitting center to learn about specific requirements for your project.

For watershed residents living within city limits: City of Bellingham Permit Center (360) 778-8300

For watershed residents living outside of city limits: Whatcom County Planning and Development Services Permit Center (360) 778-5900

Posted June 8, 2021

Be Safe and Watch Your Wake

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: June 7, 2021

Check Your Motor. Protect Lake Whatcom.

A reminder as 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 June 1, 2021

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting June 2, 2021

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, June 2 at 3:00 p.m. This meeting is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted: May 25, 2021

We want to hear about your yard waste!

It’s yard care season! What do you do with your grass clippings, prunings, and other yard waste? Take our survey and tell us how you dispose of yard waste. Lake Whatcom Management Program partners will use your feedback to improve services for watershed residents and protect water quality in Lake Whatcom. Click here to take the survey.


Posted: April 30, 2021

More

Boat Inspection Stations Open April 24

Are you ready for a new boating season? Remember to purchase your 2021 permit online before heading to the boat launch. You will receive your permit after your vessel passes inspection. Inspection stations at Bloedel Donovan Park, Sudden Valley Marina, and Lake Samish open on Saturday, April 24. The Lake Whatcom South Bay station will open Sunday, May 2.

Please note that COVID-19 safety protocols are still in place for the 2021 boating season. For more information about what to expect as well as inspection locations and hours, please visit https://whatcomboatinspections.com/.


Posted: April 19, 2021

Look for the Zero

Thinking about fertilizing your lawn this spring? Remember to look for the zero! Local laws prohibit using fertilizer containing phosphorus in the Lake Whatcom watershed. Fertilizer products list three numbers from left to right for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Make sure the middle number is zero. For more information, Phosphorus: Too Much of a Good Thing.

Posted: April 9, 2021

Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commissioners Annual Meeting March 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Curious about Lake Whatcom water quality and protection efforts? The public is invited to learn more about the Lake Whatcom Management Program at an online meeting of the Bellingham City Council, Whatcom County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners. Topics discussed will include water quality monitoring and cleanup efforts, 2020 program accomplishments, and an update on the new Whatcom County Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility.

The meeting agenda, which includes instructions for how to join the online meeting, and additional resources can be found here.


Posted: March 17, 2021

Lake Whatcom 2020 Progress Report Now Available

The Lake Whatcom Management Program 2020 Progress Report is now available. The report provides a summary of work completed to meet the objectives of the Lake Whatcom Management Program 2020-2024 Work Plan. To view the progress report and work plan, visit our Resources Page.


Posted: March 16, 2021

2020 Boat Inspection Report Now Available

The Whatcom Boat Inspections 2020 annual report is now available. The report details efforts of the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program’s rigorous boat inspection program, which strives to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Whatcom County waters.

Despite a delayed start and closure of the Canadian border, a total of 14,777 watercraft inspections were conducted—a 14 percent increase compared to the 2019 season.

Inspection crews followed strict COVID-19 safety protocols to keep both our staff and community healthy. Crews intercepted over 1,200 boats that were carrying standing water, vegetation, or were otherwise considered high-risk for transporting invasive mussels.

More detailed results from the 2020 boating season can be found in the Whatcom Boat Inspections 2020 Annual Report and the AIS program’s interactive Story Map.

Posted: February 11, 2021

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting February 17, 2021

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. This meeting is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted: February 11, 2021

We Need Your Help!

To serve the community's interests and protect Lake Whatcom watershed health, we have developed this volunteer interest survey. The information gathered will help Lake Whatcom Management Program partners provide more opportunities for community members to get involved in watershed stewardship activities. Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LakeWhatcom2021


Posted: February 1, 2021

Subscribe to the Lake Whatcom Lowdown

The first edition of the Lake Whatcom Lowdown is here! Do you live, work, or play in the Lake Whatcom watershed? Subscribe now to receive quarterly updates about the Lake Whatcom watershed. You can view the first edition and subscribe here.

Posted: February 1, 2021

2021 permits available

AIS boat permits are now available for the 2021 season. Even during winter months, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) permits and inspections are required. Schedule your inspection by calling (360) 778-7975 at least 24 hours prior to launch. Learn more about the AIS program at www.whatcomboatinspections.com.


Posted: January 27, 2021

Planning to boat this winter?

Planning to boat in Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish this winter? Even during the “off” season, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) permits and inspections are required. Schedule your inspection by calling (360) 778-7975 at least 24 hours prior to launch. Learn more about the AIS program at www.whatcomboatinspections.com.

Posted: December 4, 2020

Photo by Todd Edison

Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting: December 2, 2020

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 2 at 3:00 p.m. This is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted: November 24, 2020

Lake Whatcom On-Site Sewage System Impact Assessment report now available

The final report for a 2020 study of water quality impacts from on-site sewage systems (also known as OSS or septic systems) on Lake Whatcom’s north shore is now available.

The study builds on a 2017 study that concluded that septic systems along North Shore Road are a likely source of bacteria and phosphorus contamination to Lake Whatcom.

The 2020 study did not find a correlation between human biomarkers from septic systems and phosphorus and fecal bacteria levels, indicating that these septic system contaminants are likely removed by soils prior to reaching the lake.

Download the final reports for both the 2017 and 2020 studies:

Visit our Water Quality page for more information on Lake Whatcom water quality monitoring.

close up of rake and fallen leaves with grass

Get Rid of Yard Waste the Right Way

Did recent windstorms leave a pile of leaves to rake in your yard? What to do with all of those leaves? It may not seem intuitive, but yard waste is pollution. You are required to dispose of it properly. Dumping it near ditches and roads, creeks or Lake Whatcom is not a good option.

Leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste piled near ditches, roads, or water can:

  • Plug storm drains and culverts, causing flooding and increasing maintenance costs.

  • Add excess nutrients and other pollutants to the water, harming water quality and wildlife.

  • Spread invasive plants, harming native vegetation and habitat.

Watershed Work Window Closes September 30

The work window for ground disturbing activities closes September 30 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 1 to May 31. Dirty water flowing into Lake Whatcom adds phosphorus, harming water quality and aquatic life. Learn more:

Thank you for taking care to prevent erosion during the rainy season.

Posted September 25, 2020



Lake Whatcom Policy Group Meeting September 23, 2020

The Lake Whatcom Policy Group will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, September 23 at 3:00 p.m. This meeting is a public meeting. To attend, use the link and instructions provided on the meeting agenda.

Posted: September 16, 2020

Whatcom Water Week starts this Saturday!

Whatcom Water Week is September 12 - 19. Events this year include a self-guided Lake Whatcom tour on the Chanterelle Trail in Lake Whatcom Park. There are more self-guided tours and scavenger hunts, webinars, interactive games, riddles, and virtual tours so you can learn about Whatcom Water while social distancing!

Visit www.whatcomwaterweeks.org for event details and to learn how to participate in the Explore Some More passport. Each event you participate in will give you the opportunity to enter into a prize drawing.



Want to learn more about water quality in our region?

Check out Water Currents, a new e-newsletter from Washington State University Extension. The Fall 2020 issue includes articles about water quality problems in rainwater runoff (stormwater), toxins leaching from roofs, the “first flush” from fall rains, and a new two-day course for anyone who wants to help clean up our waterways in the event of an oil spill.

Read the newsletter and sign up to get it delivered to your inbox quarterly.

Posted September 9, 2020



Stewards of the Lake Guidebook arriving in mailboxes this week

Stewards of the Lake: A Guide to Living in the Lake Whatcom Watershed will be arriving in Lake Whatcom watershed residents' mailboxes this week. This guidebook provides information and resources to help residents protect water quality and watershed health. Curious about what the government is doing to help? There is information on that too.

Visit our Stewardship Guidebook page to download a copy of the guidebook and access additional resources and information.

Posted July 22, 2020

Lake Whatcom 2020-2024 Work Plan approved

The Lake Whatcom 2020-2024 Work Plan has now been approved by each of the three respective jurisdictions. The Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District approved the plan at their June 10 Board of Commissioners meeting. Whatcom County Council approved the plan at their July 7 Council Meeting. Bellingham City Council approved the plan at their July 20 Council Meeting.

Posted: July 22, 2020

Lake Whatcom 2020-2024 Work Plan and responses to comments now available

The Bellingham City Council, the Whatcom County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners were slated to vote on final approval of the new Lake Whatcom 2020-2024 Work Plan during their meeting on March 25. Instead, approval of the final work plan will occur at upcoming meetings to be held by each of the three respective jurisdictions.

Posted: March 27, 2020

CANCELLED: March 25, 2020 Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission Annual Meeting

The annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission meeting is cancelled due to public health concerns related to COVID-19 and in conformity with Whatcom County Health Department's recent emergency declaration regarding large meetings.

Posted: March 13, 2020

Draft Lake Whatcom Management Program Work Plan Available for Review

As Lake Whatcom Management Program partners, the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District work together to develop a coordinated five year work plan to meet program goals for the protection of Lake Whatcom and its watershed. The 2020-2024 draft work plan is now available for public review and comment.

Posted: February 5, 2020