Check Your Motor - Protect the Lake

Check your boat motor

Look for the motor label

Boat motor labels must have at least one star to operate on Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Low emission motors are the right choice for you and the lake. They are cleaner and provide these additional benefits:

  • Burn 35-50% less gasoline

  • Use up to 50% less oil

  • Easier to maintain and start

  • Quicker throttle response

  • Reduce fumes and noise

It's the Law

Know the regulations

Carbureted two-stroke engines are prohibited on Lake Whatcom unless they are certified and labeled as meeting 2006 or later model year United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards. City of Bellingham regulations banning carburested two-stroke engines went into place for Lake Whatcom in 2006. Whatcom County placed similar regulations on Lake Whatcom in 2009 and on Lake Samish in 2020.

Read the Code


Studies conducted by the EPA indicate that conventional two-stroke engines discharge 25-30% of their fuel, unburned, into the environment when operated at full throttle. This means that for every 10 gallons of fuel used in a conventional two-stroke, 2.5 to 3 gallons may go directly into the air and water.

You can help

Reduce engine pollution

  • Use an electric motor.

  • Choose a cleaner and more efficient engine when purchasing a new engine.

  • Limit engine operation at full throttle.

  • Eliminate unnecessary idling.

  • Tune and maintain your engine to increase efficiency and decrease leaks.

  • Choose a non-motorized boat!

Be responsible when fueling

  • Make sure the gas tank is easily accessible.

  • Take your boat or tank to a gas station. Refill oil and gas away from the water.

  • Pump/pour fuel extremely slowly.

  • Know your fuel tank size prior to fueling.

  • Don't top off the tank; leave room for expansion.

  • Have an absorbent pad and/or fuel collar ready for drips.

  • Install a fuel/air separator.

  • Use a gasoline container you can handle easily and hold securely.

  • Use a funnel or a spout with an automatic stop device to prevent overfilling the gas tank.