News & Events‎ > ‎

Latest News

Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission to meet March 29

posted Mar 22, 2017, 1:43 PM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Mar 22, 2017, 4:52 PM ]

Water quality, homeowner programs to be discussed
The Lake Whatcom Management Program invites the public to attend the annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission meeting on March 29 in the Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie Street. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. and will be taped for later airing on BTV.

What does 2016 monitoring tell us about Lake Whatcom water quality? What are the next steps in meeting the State Department of Ecology's requirements for reducing phosphorus and bacteria in the water? What can homeowners do to help reduce phosphorus in the lake? These and other questions will be answered at this meeting, attended by members of the Bellingham City Council, Whatcom County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board.

Staff will review program progress during 2016 and describe expected activities and investments for 2017. Efforts will focus on reducing phosphorus from runoff from public and private land using large public stormwater projects in addition to a revamped Homeowner Incentive Program (HIP). HIP is being expanded geographically, program requirements are being simplified, and incentives for homeowners are being enhanced, with a focus on properties that directly drain to the lake or nearby streams.

Public comment will occur at the end of the meeting. A detailed agenda and the Lake Whatcom Management Program 2016 Progress Report can be found below:
Before the meeting, from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m., staff of the jurisdictions will hold an open house, which will include poster boards, maps, and literature. Staff will be available to answer questions from the public.

Media Contacts:
Renee LaCroix, Assistant Public Works Director
Public Works - Natural Resources
City of Bellingham
(360) 778-7966
rlacroix@cob.org

Gary Stoyka, Natural Resources Manager
Whatcom County Public Works
(360) 778-6218
GStoyka@co.whatcom.wa.us

Patrick Sorensen, General Manager
Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District
(360) 734-9224
patrick.sorensen@lwwsd.org
 

This article was originally posted on the City of Bellingham's website on 3/22/2017 (Wednesday).

Whatcom Boat Inspection Program reports success in keeping invasive mussels at bay

posted Feb 24, 2017, 12:03 PM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Apr 17, 2017, 9:03 AM ]

The Whatcom Boat Inspection Program conducted 9,571 boat inspections at Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish during the 2016 boating season to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Whatcom County waters.

While the majority of boats inspected had been properly cleaned, drained, and dried, AIS inspectors intercepted 140 boats transporting vegetation and 201 boats that were wet or were found to have standing water. These boats were of particular concern because standing water can host and spread the microscopic larvae of damaging aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels.

If introduced, the impacts of these invasive mussels would be felt by our entire community. These mussels could attach to and damage public and private infrastructure, make shoreline areas hazardous or uninviting for recreational users and property owners, cause long-term taste and odor problems in our drinking water, and displace and outcompete native aquatic species.

The inspected watercraft came from a total of 256 different water bodies in 19 different states or provinces prior to launching at Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish in 2016, including eight water bodies infested with invasive mussels. As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program remains an important defense in the protection of our local lakes.

The Lake Whatcom Management Program has been operating a mandatory watercraft inspection program since April 2013. Inspections and aquatic invasive species permits are required for all watercraft operating on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Almost 30,000 inspections of both motorized and non-motorized watercraft have been conducted to date by the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program. In addition to quagga and zebra mussels, inspectors are looking for invasive aquatic plants and New Zealand mudsnails.

More detailed results from the 2016 boating season can be found in the Whatcom Boat Inspections 2016 Annual Report and by viewing our interactive Story Map that shows the last water body visited by boats entering Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. For more information visit: www.whatcomboatinspections.com

Lake Whatcom Capital Project Plan Update

posted Jan 6, 2017, 9:38 AM by City of Bellingham

The Lake Whatcom Comprehensive Stormwater Plan was completed in 2008. It includes an analysis of threats to water quality and watershed health and recommended solutions to protect Lake Whatcom. Whatcom County Public Works uses the Lake Whatcom Comprehensive Stormwater Plan to guide water quality treatment project identification and prioritization. All capital projects included in the current plan have either been built or are on the County's current six-year capital project plan, the Water Resources Improvement Program. Whatcom County is updating the capital project section of the plan in 2016 to identify and prioritize new water quality treatment capital projects within the county portion of the Lake Whatcom watershed (outside of city limits).


The update process will include:
  • Collecting information on known surface water problems and possible water quality treatment capital projects from the public and Lake Whatcom Management Program partners.
  • Engineering analysis to identify and scope new capital projects.
  • Evaluation and prioritization of proposed projects based on preliminary cost estimates and estimated phosphorus load reduction.
  • Developing conceptual designs for priority capital projects.
  • Developing a draft and final addendum to the Lake Whatcom Comprehensive Stormwater Plan.
Sign up to receive notifications of future public meetings about the Lake Whatcom capital project plan update. If you have trouble using this on-line form, call Remy McConnell with Whatcom County Public Works at (360) 778-6298 and ask to be added to the notification list.

First Public Meeting
Provide your input on stormwater problems in the Lake Whatcom watershed
Thursday, April 28, 2016
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Bloedel Donovan Park Multi-Purpose Building
Bellingham, WA

Originally posted by Whatcom County in April, 2016 at: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/2329/Capital-Project-Plan-Update 

Annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission meeting set for March 23

posted Mar 21, 2016, 10:47 AM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Mar 21, 2016, 10:47 AM ]

Legislators to discuss water quality, review management program
Community members are invited to attend the annual Lake Whatcom Joint Councils and Commission meeting on Wednesday March 23 in the Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie Street. Staff will be available at an information open house outside the Chambers from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The meeting of the joint Councils/Commission will start at 6:30 p.m. and will be aired on BTV10.

This meeting brings together members of the Lake Whatcom Management Team, which includes the Whatcom County Council, the Bellingham City Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Commission, to discuss efforts to improve water quality in Lake Whatcom, the drinking water source for more than half of Whatcom County residents. The three jurisdictions have worked together since 1992 to coordinate work to improve the health of the lake. At this meeting, legislators will review the Lake Whatcom Management Program 2015 Progress Report, which outlines important work in a number of areas including land preservation, stormwater pollution control, utility improvements, and management of recreation activities.

At the meeting, legislators will also receive a briefing on recent program and funding proposals at the state level to enhance aquatic invasive species prevention activities. The meeting will include an opportunity to provide public comment. 

Whatcom Boat Inspection Program continues success in fighting invasive species

posted Jan 19, 2016, 11:11 AM by City of Bellingham

In 2015, the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program conducted over 8,900 boat inspections at Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Whatcom County waters.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals, and pathogens that live primarily in water, thrive in a new environment, and cause economic loss, environmental damage, and harm to human health.

While the majority of boats inspected had been properly cleaned, drained, and dried, AIS inspectors intercepted 187 boats transporting vegetation and 218 boats that were wet or were found to have standing water. These boats were of particular concern because standing water can host and spread the microscopic larvae of damaging aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels.

If introduced, these invasive mussels could cause serious impacts attaching to and damaging public and private infrastructure, making shoreline areas hazardous or uninviting for recreational users and property owners, causing long-term taste and odor problems in our drinking water, and displacing and outcompeting native aquatic species.

The inspected watercraft came from a total of 360 different waterbodies in 19 different states or provinces prior to launching at Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish in 2015, including two waterbodies infested with invasive mussels. As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program remains an important defense in the protection of our local waters. The 2015 inspection results can now be viewed using an interactive online Story Map that shows where boaters are traveling from.

Last year the Lake Whatcom Management Program launched the Whatcom Boat Inspections website and online AIS Awareness Course to educate boaters and community members about the importance of stopping the spread of AIS to Whatcom County waters. Over 2,800 people have taken the AIS Awareness course since it launched in April 2014. Successful completion of the course entitles participants to a $10 discount that can be applied to each annual boating permit purchased.

The Lake Whatcom Management Program has been operating a mandatory watercraft program since April 2013. Inspections and AIS permits are required for all watercraft operating on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Over 20,000 inspections of both motorized and non-motorized watercraft have been conducted so far by the Whatcom Boat Inspection Program. In addition to quagga and zebra mussels, inspectors are looking for invasive aquatic plants and New Zealand mudsnails.

More detailed results from the 2015 boating season can be found in the Whatcom Boat Inspections 2015 Annual Report and by viewing our interactive Story Map. For more information visit: www.whatcomboatinspections.com.

Originally posted: December 16, 2015

Public input needed on Lake Whatcom Work Plan

posted Jan 19, 2016, 11:10 AM by City of Bellingham

The Lake Whatcom Management Program's Policy Group will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 in City Council Chambers to review and discuss the Draft Lake Whatcom Management Program 2015-2019 Work Plan. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the work session to hear about and comment on planned activities that will support Lake Whatcom management goals over the next five years. Public input is welcome to help ensure that the plan meets our community's needs for the protection of Lake Whatcom.

Lake Whatcom's health affects everyone in the City of Bellingham, and many Whatcom County residents as well. Not only is the lake the source of drinking water for Bellingham and parts of Whatcom County, it has also been an environmental icon and popular recreational outlet for generations of people throughout the area.

The 2015-2019 work plan describes the broad spectrum of actions that the City, County, Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, and other partners will take to protect the environmental health of Lake Whatcom during the next five years. Program actions include protecting watershed functions, reducing phosphorus runoff from public and private properties, preventing aquatic invasive species infestations, collecting data relevant to effective program design, and engaging the community in pollution reduction strategies.

The work session for the 2015-2019 work plan will be facilitated by the Lake Whatcom Joint Policy Group, which includes members from the City and County Councils, the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Commission, and the Sudden Valley Community Association Board.

What can you do? Submit comments by March 18, 2015
Access and review the Draft Lake Whatcom Management Program 2015-2019 Work Plan. Find out more and share your input on the Lake Whatcom Management Program (LWMP) and the five-year work plan by attending the work session at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 25 in City Council Chambers. You can also send written comments to Clare Fogelsong, Natural Resources Policy Manager, City of Bellingham Public Works, 2221 Pacific Street, Bellingham, WA 98229, or cfogelsong@cob.org up until March 18, 2015.

The City of Bellingham does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the admissions or access to, or treatment of or employment in, its programs or activities. Disability-related aids or services, including printed information in alternate formats, to enable persons with disabilities to participate in public meetings and programs are available by contacting Heather Higgins at (360) 778-7905 one week prior to the meeting/program.

Originally posted: February 17, 2015 by the City of Bellingham at  http://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/1264/2464206/.

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

posted Jan 19, 2016, 11:09 AM 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 failed to meet water quality standards. The primary concern is low levels of dissolved oxygen as a result of increased levels of phosphorus 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:
Originally posted on December 3, 2014

1-7 of 7