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.

HIP was piloted under a Washington State Department of Ecology grant from 2011 – 2015. In 2016, enrollment was put on hold while City of Bellingham and Whatcom County staff worked to gather feedback from stakeholders on what worked well in the pilot program and what could be improved. This information was used to develop a new and improved HIP that launched in 2017. Additional program updates and expansions are planned for 2021-2022.

HIP overview

  • The current program area includes all developed properties draining to basins 1 and 2 (see map).

  • An interactive website provides customized information about incentives, project types, and options for taking action on your property.

  • Program offerings vary by property size and location. Properties with large lawns and that drain directly to streams or the lake export more phosphorus and therefore quality for additional assistance. Assistance with native landscaping is available for all residential properties in the program area.

  • A pool of HIP-certified designers and contractors are available to assist homeowners.

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

Photo by G. Mednick, 2019

Lake Whatcom Protection

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. For these efforts to be successful, residents must also change the way water runs through and off their properties. 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.

Examples of HIP Projects

Permeable pavers over an infiltration trench

Native landscaping

Media filter drain (MFD) covered with river rock