Homeowner Incentive Program

The Lake Whatcom Homeowner Incentive Program (HIP) provides assistance to Lake Whatcom watershed residents to complete water quality landscape improvements on their property that reduce runoff and pollution entering the lake. Many of these water quality improvement projects also make beautiful landscape improvements. Visit the HIP website to find out if you qualify.

Since 2011, HIP has helped over 180 Lake Whatcom watershed homeowners install water quality projects. HIP has invested more than $850,000 into reimbursements to participating property owners. And HIP projects are currently preventing about 28 pounds of phosphorus from entering Lake Whatcom every year. That's about 14,000 pounds of algae prevented from growing in the lake every summer!

HIP overview

  • Watch this short Lake Whatcom Water Quality Overview video!

  • As of 2021, the HIP area includes the entire Lake Whatcom watershed.

  • HIP is available to help homeowners with property that does not meet current City of Bellingham or Whatcom County stormwater management standards.

  • Program offerings vary by location. Visit the HIP website and enter your address to see what HIP has to offer.

  • The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County partner with the Whatcom Conservation District to provide dedicated staff to help HIP participants complete their projects.

Why does HIP matter?

The City and County are substantially invested in protecting and improving water quality in Lake Whatcom through stormwater retrofits and treatment systems, property acquisition, education and outreach, and regulation and enforcement. These actions alone are not enough. Private property owners also have a role to play. Water that runs off of residential properties often carries excess nutrients, pet waste, car oil, and soaps, which all harm the quality of our drinking water source and increase water treatment costs. Taking stewardship actions like installing a HIP project reduces the pollution leaving your property in stormwater runoff flowing to the lake.

Photo by G. Mednick, 2019

Examples of HIP Projects

Permeable pavers over an infiltration trench

Native landscaping

Media filter drain (MFD) covered with river rock