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Protect the Lake Whatcom Drinking Water Reservoir
The Watershed Is Not Being Preserved!     Consider the Consequences in Health and Cost!
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LakeWhatcom photo by Char
photo: Char
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Troubles in the Reservoir:
Urbanization of the Reservoir watershed should be stopped.

Say "NO!" to ab2013-102a
The County is now preparing a new regulation intended to allow more construction on the lands whose rainfall-runoff goes directly into the waters of our drinking-water reservoir. This is wrong!

And furthermore, the rules are complex and rife with "exceptions", in a way that will make enforcement next to impossible. The bill is ab2013-1-2a, which may be downloaded : here.

If you care for water quality and the County budget, call the Council and insist that Bill ab2013-102a be scrapped, and far tighter prohibitions be made.

Phosphorus in the water is the main culprit - phosphorus consumes oxygen, and oxygen-starved water promotes blue-green algae. That phosphorus comes from many different urban activities, including fertilizer.

Any urban construction will release phosphorus from multiple sources.

Phosphorus and other toxic chemicals travel from the constructed surfaces and the soil into the creeks with rainwater runoff, then down the creeks into the lake.

The surest way to avoid new phosphorus from being put into motion on the surface and in creeks, is to stop building on those lands.

Here are two graphics about the routes of phosphorus and other pollutants into the Reservoir, and an outline of one analysis of alternatives - good and bad: (open in new tabs)

Planning chart:
a rough planning chart
(large file - may be wider than full-screen)

Existing urbanization

Existing urbanization is the major cause of the pollution which is detrimental to the water quality of the Reservoir. The best protection of the water is well-managed forests covering the watershed.

But, there are still watershed areas where
additional development is being done or planned, and that will make the lake even more polluted.

Expanding McMansion urbanization!!

A request for even more urbanization, a two-mile road to serve dozens of new "McMansion" houselots on the Squalicum Mountain mountainside, has been brought AGAIN ! - with a RE-ISSUED SEPA "REVIEW" before an agency of Whatcom County - for 540 acres (yes - over five hundred acres) of housing development on Squalicum Mountain, several miles outside the City limits, and on the brink of a steep area of the watershed, which was long ago declared a "critical area".

Download the REVISED APPROVED SEPA 2008-00063 here

Click on thumbnail map for full image: Squalicum_Mtn

We agree with this blog by John Watts: -- the County must be told that this must be denied. We think the City would be a good "person" to do so. Even citizens - YOU! - may file formal comments ("objections") to the proposed ruling, declaring why no halfway attempt at "mitigation" (the legal loophole) can and will be sufficient to offset the harm that a new development of this size will bring.

Lead Agency:
Whatcom County Planning and Development Services
Zoning: Rural Forestry (RF)
Comp Plan: Rural Forestry


More details will soon follow here.

If you hear of something positive, please.....   e-mail to: webmaster .)

AIS = Aquatic Invasive Species
(NEW! in 2011)

Boat Inspections have started in 2013

The City of Bellingham has installed an Inspection Station at the Bloedel-Donovan Park launch ramp, and it seems to be working satisfactorily, with boats intending to enter the Reservoir being inspected, cleaned if necessary, then issued a permit tag.

Invasive clams and mussels are the newest cause of the problems detrimental to the operation of the treatment plant. These creatures (dozens of species) are brought into the Reservoir by watercraft which were used on other bodies of water (fresh and salt), and not cleaned and sanitized before being launched into Lake Whatcom.

The infestations are being found mostly in areas where
there are boat launches, both powerboats and human-powered, kayaks and rowboats. Even tiny juvenile and adult aquatic invasive species (clams and mussels) can stick themselves onto the hull of a boat or floatplane float, and survive there for a notable time, until again placed in the water. Then they drop free, and begin feeding and multiplying on the food supply in the lake.

The Documented Concerns --
50 Years Ago

Two Professors at WWU (then WWSC) raised concerns and started studying the Reservoir -- and made videos on the topic.

This news is both great and bothersome, since it vividly illustrates concerns over the degradation of the water quality in the Reservoir, that long ago - yet shows how far we still are from a definitive solution.

On 7/15/2010 Tim Kraft wrote to this webmaster:

"..Thanks for the great web site.

I was recently looking for some data to justify the recent news story that said that we're at the point where all lake water should be treated before drinking, when I discovered the web site which alerted me to the existence of a film depicting my late father, Dr. Gerald Kraft, and Dr. Charles Flora, summarizing their 1963 Lake Whatcom Study.
This was an amazing discovery for me. Hearing my father's prophetic warning of the need to stop increasing human activity on and around the lake, way back in 1963, was eerie.

I went to the WWU archives and obtained a DVD copy of the film mentioned here on the web site:

FYI: I have digitized the film and posted clips on YouTube. I was inspired to create a little web site dedicated to my father, Dr. Flora, and the Lake Whatcom Study Project.

You are welcome to use any of the content of my web site as well as any of the video clips that I have posted there.

Thank you for continuing the work that my father, Dr. Gerald Kraft, and Dr. Flora started so many years ago!

Best Regards,

Tim Kraft

NEW LIMITS on Phosphorus

The State has issued new restrictions on detergents containing Phosphorus.

This is great, since Phosphorus is a big culprit in the degradation of the water quality in the Reservoir.

Actions that are Needed

Phosphorus is a big culprit in the degradation of the water quality in the Reservoir. It gets into the Lake in the water of the streams, and in direct runoff from shoreline properties.

How can that pollution be reduced (eliminated)? By keeping phosphorus out of the runoff water, and to do that, keeping it off the ground.

So how does phosphorus get on the ground? Hard data is difficult to find, but it seems clear that these routes are the big ones.

Fertilizer is placed on the ground - the lawns and gardens. Just don't do that with phosphorus. Please go review what's in your "garden shed", and if any of the products have phosphorus, take them to a recycle center.

Word-of-mouth works like a charm. How many times have you heard some snippet of a tragedy or a joy from a neighbor or family member? Make the Phosphorus-Out program (the "P-O") a topic for the dinner table and the back fence. Spread the word.

The City Acts!

At the City Council meeting of May 19, 2008, the Council passed an Emergency Moratorium, establishing tight restrictions on building activities within the City's portion of the Watershed.

This means that within the watershed portion of the City (most of the Silver Beach Neighborhood), no permits will be granted unless the applications:
  1. Were complete prior to the effective date of this ordinance;
  2. Are for building permits for remodels or repairs of existing structures where no new or additional impervious surfaces are proposed; or
  3. Are for a property whose stormwater does not drain into Lake Whatcom.
Click for Full Text of the Ordinance, in RTF format

Also, review the discussion by some leading citizens, in the blog at NW Citizen:

foto: Lynne Findley,
who likes to see a clean lake!

See it from space!

Clearcut_on_Northshore.kml - Google-Earth "Place-file" download, save, double-click
(requires Google-Earth program)

Read about these at:
Where on Earth is it?
Discussion of Google-Earth "kml & kmz-files".
Current News:
click for old news
Lake Whatcom Pollution Elements/Sources/Routes:

Name all the pollutants which may enter the water body:
  • P
  • e-coli
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (new!)
  • toxics from the two Bellingham garbage landfills on 'Y' road.
  • engine exhaust from boats
  • heat-exchanger-cooled marine engine discharges
  • auto droppings
  • wood preservative
  • yours...
  • yours...

Name all the routes (methods) by which pollutants might enter the water body of the lake.
  • creeks
  • shorefront lawns
  • manicured lawns
  • subsurface flow - toxic plume effluent from the two Bellingham garbage landfills on 'Y' road.
  • underwater springs (ground-water flow)
  • in precipitation
  • wind-blown dust
  • from old sediments
  • decomposition of structures (pilings, etc)
  • decomposition of plant parts (leaves, logs, etc)
  • dumped sawdust, bark, and sunk logs
  • direct deposits by birds
  • direct deposits by people
  • things on float-plane hulls
  • things on boat hulls
  • asphalt/concrete sloped surfaces leading to lake
  • compacted soil surfaces which increase runoff
  • mud mobilized by foot/bicycle traffic on soggy soil surface
  • fake beaches
  • yours...
Protect Lake Whatcom: This website is maintained by a concerned citizen in honor of the spirit of Ruth, developed for a Citizens' Initiative brought forth in 1999, with the purpose of directing the City to implement Goal #2 of their own 21 Goals for the management and preservation of the Reservoir.
Copyright 1999-2008 ©  updated Oct 27, 2008
Our bottom-line principles are: Protect the water (supply & quality) in perpetuity -- maintain ecological viability of the lake for natural species -- distribute the financial burden fairly among those benefitting -- take immediate action if prudent -- take definitive action -- avoid actions which cut off future options.
     e-mail to: webmaster